The Daily Telegraph November 1995

The Daily Telegraph 2nd November 1995

His own place in his own time

EACH Thursday between now and early December, a series of lunchtime concerts at the Purcell Room is exploring the music of William Lloyd Webber, father of Julian and Andrew.

During his lifetime (1914-82), he was best known as an organist and administrator (he was head of the London College of Music for many years). But he was also a closet composer, one who never had the self-confidence to push his own music and whose style became old-fashioned. It is only in our pluralistic times that his music is coming into its own.

This concert series includes three world premières, the first of them, a Fantasy-Trio in B minor, given by the Solomon Piano Trio at this first recital. It was written in 1936, when Lloyd Webber was 22. Its style is utterly of its period, reminiscent of Bax and Ireland, and, in its harmonic writing, owing a debt to French music. Distinctly personal, though, are the yearning, rhythmically driven melodies for the violin and cello and individually chromatic chord progressions for the piano. It is barely 10 minutes in length but it would make an attractive addition to any trio’s repertoire.

The playing of pianist Daniel Adni, violinist Rodney Friend and cellist Raphael Sommer was warm and sympathetic, catching that certain glow of a forgotten age of English music.

Either side came Haydn and Mendelssohn. Haydn’s Gypsy Rondo Trio was dogged in its early parts by Friend’s rather scratchy playing and unevenness of phrasing, but the finale caught fire splendidly. Mendelssohn’s Trio No 1 in F minor was treated to an equally full-blooded performance.