The Buzz Daily : Julian Lloyd Webber at St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester
Julian Lloyd Webber with John Lenehan, St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester, September 20 2012
Gloucester Music Society invited its President, Julian Lloyd Webber, to perform the inaugural recital of their new season which highlights the music of English composers past and present.
And who better? Cotswold resident Lloyd Webber is a great devotee of Delius whose 150th anniversary falls this year. Indeed, he once tracked down a forgotten piece by the composer written in 1896 and gave its premiere in Helsinki 80 years later.
What a good thing he did so, for the Romance has a strong melody and radiates warmth and charm. It followed one of Delius' final works, the Caprice and Elegy, of which the Caprice was more wistful than light-hearted and the Elegy infused with poignant melancholy.
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Delius' more rapturous Sonata for Cello and Piano, received a flowing, rhapsodic performance by Lloyd Webber and pianist John Lenehan culminating with a strong reiteration of the principal melody.
By contrast Debussy's Sonata composed at the same time is much grittier in tone. While echoes of the First World War were absent from Delius' music there was a distinctly sombre tone in the Debussy work which called on the cello to imitate a guitar, tambourine and flute in the serenade section.
The recital concluded with Ireland's Sonata for Cello and Piano in which the piano and cello were evenly matched. After a brooding opening the work abounded in drama and contrast; at one point the instruments seemed to be indulging in a furious quarrel. The Larghetto was more prayerful and contemplative, but the energetic finale put an abrupt end to the calm.
Both musicians seemed at home in the intimacy and excellent acoustics of St Mary de Lode. resulting in memorable performances which touched the soul.