To mark his 70th year, The Singing Strad is an outstanding 3-disc collection of cello favourites [available from April 9], chosen by Julian himself, featuring his celebrated recordings spanning over two decades, capturing him at the height of his powers.
At the centrepiece of this new collection is his award-winning recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with other highlights including his recordings of Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata with John McCabe, the Saint-Saëns Concerto and works by Fauré & Debussy with Yan Pascal Tortelier, arrangements of Vaughan Williams, John Ireland & Percy Grainger with Sir Neville Marriner, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with Maxim Shostakovich (Tchaikovsky’s original version) and a special recording of his brother’s Pie Jesu. All recordings were made with his Barjansky Stradivarius cello which he had played for more than thirty years.
The set also includes a beautiful miniature entitled Jackie’s Song, composed by Julian as a musical tribute to the cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Of this, he said: “I felt compelled to write something which hopefully encapsulates the special qualities of this unique musician”
In further celebrations of his 70th year, Julian has joined Classic FM for a brand-new show, Julian Lloyd Webber’s Rising Stars, which celebrates 30 brilliant classical musicians under 30, running for 5 weeks from 28th February. Some of the artists featured in the series include star pianists Benjamin Grosvenor & Isata Kanneh-Mason, superstar cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, child prodigy Christian Li and the British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tomasso. Julian will also be joined by new Decca signing Randall Goosby and the incredible Daniil Trifonov, Kian Soltani, Jan Lisiecki, Daniel Lozakovich and many more.
Widely regarded as one of the most creative musicians of his generation, Julian inspired many new compositions and arrangements for cello – many featured in this new set. Throughout his incredible career, he collaborated with an extraordinary array of artists, from classical legends such as Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Clifford Curzon & Murray Perahia and music royalty Sir Elton John.
Julian has also had an active involvement in music education for many years, forming the Music Education Consortium with James Galway and Evelyn Glennie in 2003, and chairing many projects including In Harmony, taking a leading role in the music curriculum in the UK and championing new talent. Julian was the Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire from July 2015 – September 2020. He has been an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust for more than 20 years and a patron of CLIC Sargent for more than 30.
Many Happy Returns, Julian. John always had much pleasure working with you, you were so easy and good to work with. I remember the recording sessions for the Shostakovitch, Britten and Prokofiev cello works as if they were yesterday. The Shostakovitch (reissued on this celebratory boxed set) is a wonderful performance. You were also very good about playing works by British composers. I only wish you were still playing today. Have a lovely day, and I hope the sun shines for you.