The Daily Telegraph August 1987

The Daily Telegraph 17th August 1987

Lloyd Webber, Mass; Two Arias – for Tenor and Organ; Two Pieces for Cello and Piano; piano pieces and songs.

Richard Hickox Singers/John Graham- Hall/John Lill/Ian Watson/Philip Ledger/Julian Lloyd Webber.


There is more than a hint of Rachmaninov in the piano music of William Lloyd Webber, whose works are now being rediscovered after some years of being outstripped in popularity by those of his son, Andrew. There is some beautiful, deeply- felt writing in, say, “Romantic Evening”, affectingly played by John Lill.

In the song-writing, too, William Lloyd Webber’s romantically turned melodies carry the words perfectly, although John Graham-Hall’s tenor sounds under strain in the upper registers, and the effect is marred.

William Lloyd Webber was known in his day chiefly as a brilliant organist and church musician, and this record includes several of his devotional pieces. The two tenor arias from his cantatas “The Saviour” and ‘The Divine Compassion” might be a touch untuous for some tastes (certainly mine).

But the “Missa Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae” is more controlled and at the same time resourcefully conceived, with (as in the secular songs) an instinctive feel for words and for choral colouring.

It is, for the most part, unaccompanied, but the organ bursts in dramatically a few bars into the. Gloria and thereafter is used as a striking expressive force at key points.

Geoffrey Norris