The Sunday Telegraph June 1998

The Sunday Telegraph 7th June 1998


Critics’ Choice

William Lloyd Webber: Invocation, Serenade, Aurora, etc.

Westminster Singers, City of London Sinfonia/Hickox (Chandos CHAN 9595).

Father of Julian and Andrew, William Lloyd Webber gave up composition because his music was out of fashion in that ghastly 1955-70 period when serialism was shoved down our throats by the BBC and the academic establishment. He had not the genius of Britten and Walton which would have enabled him to ‘thumb his nose’ at the fashion-dictators and his final years were sad. The 10 works on this disc show him to have been a composer of distinctive quality who could rise to ecstatic heights.

Invocation for strings, harp and timpani has something of Elgar’s Sospiri, whereas the Lento for Strings is altogether more middle- European in its angst. The cello Nocturne, played by Julian Lloyd Webber and John Lill and the Benedictus, with Tasmin Little solo violinist, link sacred and secular. The most moving and lovely of the choral pieces is Princeps Pacis, a short mass written for Westminster Cathedral choir in 1962 and worthy to rank with Britten’s. Chandos deserve our thanks for bringing this beautiful music back into circulation.

Michael Kennedy