The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: A generally successful collection of cello duos from a husband-and-wife team
Musicians: Julian Lloyd Webber, Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, Guy Johnston, Laura van der Heijden (cello) John Lenehan (piano) Catrin Finch (harp)
Composer: Dvorák, Schumann, Quilter, Holst, Saint-Saëns, Piazzolla, Monteverdi, Shostakovich, Rubinstein, William Lloyd Webber, Pergolesi, Hahn, Rachmaninoff, Purcell, Nevin, Barnby & Pärt

There’s nothing quite like the mellifluous tones of two cellos playing in harmony – and by the end of this attractive disc you’ll be well nigh saturated. In 21 short arrangements, all but one by Julian Lloyd Webber, he and his wife Jiaxin, formerly principal cello in the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, prove their innate musical chemistry in a whole bevy of two-part pieces.

Some arrangements work better than others. The harp feels out of place in the introduction to Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and the Monteverdi madrigal Interrotte speranze, played with full romantic feeling at its expressive height, seems too much of a mixture of styles to be enjoyable.

But enjoyment there is aplenty among the gracefully flowing lines of pieces like Saint-Saëns’s Ave Maria, the soaring melody of Hahn’s Si mes vers avaient des ailes, the sad Piazzolla waltz, full of feeling, and the gentle lilt of William Lloyd Webber’s Moon Silver, with the two cellists moving as one, their skilfully combined sound enhanced by the limpidly clear recording. The harp comes into its own in Holst’s Hymn to the Dawn, where the Lloyd Webbers are joined by two former BBC Young Musician winners, the four cellos perfectly blended in a track of rare beauty.