British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, younger brother of Andrew, has recorded major concerto repertory with the leading conductors and orchestras of the world. He has given the premieres of several dozen contemporary works, and he has recorded a number of recitals of short works, designed to appeal to a broad audience. It's the rare cellist who can pull all of these things off, and this Naxos release gives an idea of why this performer is so well loved on his home turf. The presence of his wife, cellist Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, is certainly part of the charm; the pair have undeniable rapport. Beyond that is the program, which resembles the crowd-pleasers of old. Drawing mostly on dual-voice repertory and doing all the arrangements except one himself, Lloyd Webber creates a pleasing selection of works that are brought together by their duo-harmony aspect while not losing their stylistic origins. The single piece not arranged by Lloyd Webber, Astor Piazzolla's tango song Chiquilín de Bachín (here translated as The Little Beggar Boy), is an inspired choice, and in general the selections, ranging from Monteverdi to Arvo Pärt (in unusually tonal mode) to Lloyd Webber himself in full pop splendor, are a very pretty lot: a few of them you'll have shadowy recollections of, but not a one is hackneyed, and the whole is instantly grasped. Just a lovely choice for lyrical listening.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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