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Uncommon Piquancy

Music for
two cellos -
heard by

'... riveting effect.'

A Tale of Two Cellos - Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber. © 2013 Naxos Rights US Inc

This release makes a perfect gift. Naxos 8.573251 has twenty-one miniatures -- cello duet arrangements, collectively titled A Tale of Two Cellos and featuring Julian Lloyd Webber with his wife Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, plus accompanist John Lenehan, harpist Catrin Finch and others.

Mr Lloyd Webber's track record is firmly established, though Jiaxin's reputation began with her graduation at Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1997. More recently (2001) she completed a Master's degree at Auckland University, New Zealand.

Jiaxin became noted as a chamber music player and a founder member of the Aroha String Quartet. She played frequently with both the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. With the Auckland Symphony Orchestra she performed cello concertos by Dvorák, Elgar and Lalo.

Since her marriage to Julian Lloyd Webber the two have performed for BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, CNN Global TV and BBC TV. They have recorded for Universal Classics and Naxos and they were scheduled to make two further recordings in 2013 as well as touring together with the European Union Chamber Orchestra. The duo disc has uncommon piquancy heightened by its diverse programme and repeated surprise.

Listen -- Pergolesi, arranged Julian Lloyd Webber: Dolorosa (Stabat Mater)
(track 11, 0:00-1:09) © 2013 Naxos Rights US Inc:

The Lloyd Webbers steer clear of tried and true items such as Saint-Saëns' The Swan or the opening solo from Von Suppe's Poet and Peasant overture.

They enterprisingly cover a span from Monteverdi's early Renaissance work to modern times. Who could ask more ?

The duo skip Schubert's beloved Ave Maria Op 52 No 6 (Ellens dritter Gesang) in favour of Saint-Saëns' Ave Maria in A major (1860), arranged by Julian Lloyd Webber for two cellos and piano.

Chiquilin de Bachin ('The Little Beggar Boy') emerged through the partnership of Uruguayan poet Horacio Ferrer (born 1933) and Astor Piazzolla. They recorded it together in 1970.

Listen -- Piazzolla, arranged John Lenehan: Chiquilin de Bachin
(track 2, 0:00-1:12) © 2013 Naxos Rights US Inc:

While as far back as circa 1619 we're treated to Claudio Monteverdi's Interrotte speranze, eterna fede, a madrigal for two voices from Book 7, SV 132.

Indeed between them Mssrs L-W and Lenehan have adapted items from seldom heard corners of the larger melodic repertoire to riveting effect.

Typically heard around parlour pianos in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was Sweet and Low by Sir Joseph Barnby (1838-1896), arranged by Lloyd Webber for three cellos and harp.

Shostakovitch wrote The Gadfly Op 97 'Prelude' for a 1955 Soviet film. It was also used for a BBC/PBS miniseries, Reilly, Ace of Spies.

Fundamental to Indian thought and most likely composed between 1500 and 1000 BC, the Vedic hymns were eventually attributed to the divine breath or to a vision of the seers, viz Choral Hymns for four cellos and harp from the Rig Veda, third group, Op 26 No 1, Hymn to the Dawn.

Listen -- Holst, arranged Julian Lloyd Webber: Hymn to the Dawn
(track 5, 0:00-0:56) © 2013 Naxos Rights US Inc:

There is also a brief variant on the endlessly popular Greensleeves ('My Lady Greensleeves', anon / Vaughan-Williams).

Copyright © 9 January 2014 Howard Smith,
Masterton, New Zealand






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