Friday, 18 October 2013

Review of Julian Lloyd Webber - Thursday 17 October

 Jasmine Alice, Hawthorne Theatre Review Team

You had me at Cello

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a captivating cello performance by Julian Lloyd Webber. With Rebecca Omordia as the supporting pianist, the pair took their willing audience on a journey of emotions; transforming a dark, lifeless stage into a characterful array of colour, imagination and art.

The instant connection between the two musicians was reflected in the dynamics of the pieces, as they were performed with no less than perfect symmetry. The captivating musical arrangements were linked together with insightful anecdotes, treating the audience to amusing facts and opinions which only compelled us further.

The highly commendable, intricate finger-work by Omordia added to the colourful texture of the music throughout the night and together with the hypnotic cello part I felt myself being drawn in with every note. I found the clever use of volume and tempo to be faultless, as the intertwined instruments displayed raw emotion through the contrasting waves of sound. The range included some loud, heartfelt peaks and some more quieter, poignant moments which together proved a well constructed, rounded performance.

A particular personal highlight in the first act was ‘Elegie’ by Faure. I felt from the very first moment that Lloyd Webber’s bow glided over the strings, I was hooked. However, it was the lengthy sustained notes which were combined with the delicate quick-paced piano part which really captivated the audience. It was a magical atmosphere after the climax of the piece when everybody was held in a moment of silence, not wanted to even applaud in fear of disrupting the gorgeous moment created.

After the interval proceeded three beautiful compositions, each one written by a Lloyd Webber brother, the first being William, then Julian and finally Andrew. It was a touching part of the overall performance as we really got a feel for each individual personality of the men brought up in a very musical family.

Julian’s precious ‘song for baba’, written for his baby son embodies the whole sense of the word lullaby. The memorable melody personifies nurture and wisdom, and the protecting, warmth only a parent can hold for a child.

During the performance, a short video montage of instrumental performances from Julian was played. The array of clips ranged from a deep orchestral piece to an amusing ‘jazz-style’ cello presentation, and was very enlightening, not to mention inspirational. It was a refreshing display of real musical talent which definitely evoked a lot of admiration for Julian’s life and accomplishments.

The night ended with an inquisitive Q & A session, where the audience were given even more of an insight to the man behind the bow. When asked if Julian had any advice for younger musicians he responded with the very sensible statement ‘practise makes perfect’ – that and love and passion is what I believe to be the large shiny key to his success.

My only criticism for the overall performance would be that I felt the rendition ‘Music of The Night’ from the critically acclaimed ‘Phantom of the Opera’ lacked the power in which it holds in the musical. Personally, I feel it needed more of a crescendo to heighten the raw emotion within the music. Although, it was still a touching piece, and wasn’t short of spirit.

Julian Lloyd Webber himself came across as a very humorous, witty man with a kind, genuine nature which stole the hearts of many watching. His modesty was endearing and he spoke with a humble, grateful tone when talking of his lifetime achievements.

Last night was very enlightening, and has given me a unquestionable new found love for the Cello. The evening presented an ultimate display of talent, from the wonderful composers through to the gifted musicians, who emulated sweet music which resonated to each corner of the auditorium.

However, the best part for me was being shown the intensity and magnitude of one man’s love for his best friend, the cello.

Renee Rogers, Hawthorne Theatre Review Team

One Man and His Cello

Tonight was a night of many firsts. The first time I have visited my local theatre The Hawthorne Theatre, the first time I have had goats cheese popcorn and the first time I have experienced the beauty of a cello.

Most will know me as a total musical theatre buff so cue the excitement when I get to review An Evening with Julian Lloyd Webber, the younger brother of the notorious Andrew.

Julian is world class in his own right as a solo cellist and has achieved the highest accolades possible in the world of classical music…oh and a BRIT award. With a strong connection to education and the arts he formed the Music Education Consortium and was honourably the only classical musician chosen to play at the Closing Ceremony of Olympics 2012.

The evening was a layer cake of delight. Starting the proceeding was a favourite piece of mine by Bach, Adagio in G leading into five more solid numbers. Each piece was interspersed with short snippets of information and every time we seemed to learn more about the man behind the bow and his love of his art.

Accompanying Julian was the pianist Rebeca Omordia, who provided the perfect support, showcasing Julian’s talent without compromising her own. Britten’s Scherzo Pizzicato showed the pair at their best, with a frantic cat and mouse chase played out via frenzied and static plucking. There was an unspoken dialogue between the two that was delightful to watch as they were engrossed in their own musical conversation.

The meet and greet interval led onto a family affair with Julian playing homage to his father, son and brother. His rendition of Music of the Night by Andrew was a highlight and made me download ‘Julian Lloyd Webber plays Andrew Lloyd Webber’ on iTunes as soon as I left the building.

A comic reading from Travels With My Cello peered into the life of the Lloyd Webber household and gave an insight into the truly talented family that resided in South Kensington many years ago. With just a few minutes of reading I was hooked and so wanted to hear more; Julian’s calm yet comic nature made for a great storyteller.

The Q&A session started tentatively but a tongue in cheek question about Lloyd Webber’s support of Leyton Orient had us all chuckling in our seats and set the tone for a much more relaxed session. The evening concluded with two rousing pieces that maximised the skill of both musicians as their skilled fingers climaxed with bursts of Staccato.

Altogether an intimate two hours composed of many mediums working brilliantly together. The classical virtuoso that is Julian Lloyd Webber has ignited the fire within me to see more classical music on stage.

So although tonight has been a night of many firsts, they are definitely not my lasts…

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