BMG marks Julian Lloyd Webber's half-century by revisiting some of his memorable RCA recordings of the early Eighties. It's surprising that the agreeably tuneful concerto written for him in 1979 by Joaquín Rodrigo has not been more widely embraced by other cellists. Only now, some 19 years after its Royal Festival Hall premiere, has it found its way on to CD, though Lloyd Webber's performance is just as magnetic as I remembered from LP days, and BMG's new CD transfer is excellent. Disc 1 of this compilation also includes works by Villa-Lobos, Falla, Popper and others, and Lloyd Webber's nobly measured account of the Lalo Concerto has a degree of purposeful gravitas that commands attentive listening. However, the British works grouped on the second disc reveal Lloyd Webber's finest interpretative attributes, especially in a reading of the Delius Concerto that's much the finest since du Pre's, and arguably more plausible and engrossing for what it leaves to the imagination of the listener. Lloyd Webber's more introspective style comes closer to capturing the fleeting spirit of the work than does du Pre's full-on ardour, and the recording is again first class. A hearty birthday feast that's well worth investigating.
© BBC Music Magazine 2001