Notes and Editorial Reviews
There are some musicians, I am told, who question the abilities of Julian Lloyd Webber as a cellist and Menuhin as a conductor. That, I suppose, is part of the penalty of their name and fame, but it is none the less an unfair and unperceptive judgement which will gain no support from their recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto. I prefer it to the recent Yo-Yo Ma/Previn performance on CBS and I would risk a small wager that Elgar himself might have preferred it, because it takes note of his own description of the Concerto: ''A real large work, and I think good and alive.'' Its chief merit is that it projects the work's emotional intensity without needing to resort to unauthorized extremes of tempo. Lloyd Webber may make the occasional
ritardando where none is indicated, but he is otherwise conspicuously faithful to the letter of the score. Menuhin's moderato tempo in the first movement is just right, it seems to me, sufficiently world-weary without sounding overcome by lassitude. The clarity of the recording, made in a comfortably resonant acoustic, ensures that the happy touches of orchestral detail are heard without undue prominence.
Menuhin's account of the Variations lacks some of the finesse that distinguished Mackerras's HMV recording, but it is the interpretation of a musician who has lived long with this music and loves it. He and the engineers have taken immense care with the timbre of the upper strings in the statement of the theme and there are several passages—the prominence given to the lower strings in the middle section of ''Dorabella'', for example—where Menuhin directs the listener's attention to yet another facet of this inexhaustibly fascinating score. Nothing 'routine' here, nor in the RPO's playing.
-- Gramophone [7/1986]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Cello in E minor, Op. 85 by Sir Edward Elgar
Julian Lloyd Webber (Cello)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1919; England
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