COMPOSERS: Delius,Elgar,Goodall,Vaughan Williams,Walton and Ireland,William Lloyd Webber
ALBUM TITLE: And the Bridge is Love
WORKS: Elgar: Introduction and Allegro; Serenade for Strings; Sospiri; Chanson de nuit; Chanson de matin; plus works by Vaughan Williams, William Lloyd Webber, Delius, Goodall, Walton and Ireland
PERFORMER: English Chamber Orchestra/ Julian Lloyd Webber (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573250
Julian Lloyd Webber made this recording some months before announcing his unwished-for retirement from cello playing, due to a long-standing injury. So might conducting be an area that could fruitfully open up for him instead? On the evidence of this release, one would very much hope so. The only works he features in here as a soloist are Howard Goodall’s And the Bridge is Love (composed in memory of a family friend who had tragically died young), and The Moon by his father, William Lloyd Webber. To judge from Lloyd Webber Jnr’s trademark tawny-brown, gloss-free, finely sustained sound, there’s no audible sign of any falling-off of quality in this department.
And as a conductor, he evidently has the ability to make a difference to collective performance-level (the English Chamber Orchestra plays characterfully and vividly at every point) while not getting in the music’s way – a combination of qualities nicely suited to this line-up of string works. Those by Elgar come across especially well (apart from Sospiri, here sounding a notch over-ripe). The Introduction and Allegro crackles along with crisp energy, with the four (uncredited) solo players delivering some lovely moments; and Lloyd Webber’s sureness of touch in the Serenade for Strings exactly captures the music’s unpretentious warmth.