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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 14, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

    Reviews: Lloyd Webber, Chowhan – NCH, Dublin

    Fiona McCann

    Debussy – Sonata in D minor. Britten – Sonata in C.William Lloyd Webber – In the Half Light. Nocturne.

    Brahms – Sonata in E minor, Op 38.

    This recital by English cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, presented at the National Concert Hall by the Music Network, was a frustrating experience.

    Lloyd Webber plays as if the performer is always altogether more important in the scheme of things than the composer. It’s a high-risk proposition that can be extremely effective when it comes off. Sadly, this time it didn’t.

    Lloyd Webber’s approach to the three major sonatas he offered was patchy at best, and he made the music his own in ways that seemed to take it away from the composers.

    The rashness of his approach to the sonata by Debussy resulted in a severe loss of rhythmic stability. The sonatas by Britten and Brahms sounded over-stressed and effortful, with little sense of a solidly co-ordinated partnership with pianist Pam Chowhan, whose intentions generally seemed to communicate themselves more clearly than Lloyd Webber’s.

    The interplay at the opening of the Britten was one of a number of moments which suggested what might have been. It was delightful in its caressing freedom and every note seemed perfectly placed.

    There were other passages, too, where sheer gorgeousness of tone won the day. But these were few and far between in an evening where the simple nostalgic romanticism of two short pieces by the cellist’s father, William Lloyd Webber, was altogether better served than the major fare that made up the bulk of the programme. MICHAEL DERVAN

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