For the first time, renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber introduces his wife, Jiaxin Cheng, in his latest CD Evening Songs. His first release in six years it celebrates the anniversaries of composers Frederick Delius and John Ireland in 2012.
Lloyd Webber met Cheng, the former Auckland Chamber Orchestra Principal Cellist, during his last visit to New Zealand with the NZSO in 2006. She joins Lloyd Webber on this CD, performing two world premiere arrangements of John Ireland's delightful In Summer Woods and Evening Song.
Speaking from London, Lloyd Webber said, “I have a special affinity to New Zealand, I first performed there in 1983 with the NZSO and on my last visit in 2006, I met my talented wife, Jiaxin.”
Evening Songs celebrates both composers’ melodic strengths in these sensitive arrangements. John Ireland admired Frederick Delius enormously and his songs are inspired by a wide variety of literature, including his hugely popular setting of John Masefield’s Sea Fever.
“I have always looked for a musical reason to make recordings and I hadn’t found any music I really wanted to record until I heard a beautiful and completely unknown Delius song – Birds in the High Hall Garden and thought how it would work well on the cello”
This recording revives a tradition which was common at the beginning of the last century, arranging best vocal music for instruments, of which the singing voice of the cello is best suited.
Julian Lloyd Webber is one of today’s leading cellists. He has given the premières of more than fifty new works for cello and has inspired new compositions from composers as diverse as Malcolm Arnold and Joaquín Rodrigo to James MacMillan and Philip Glass. His many recordings including his Brit-Award winning Elgar Concerto conducted by Yehudi Menuhin (chosen as the finest ever version by BBC Music Magazine) the Dvořák Concerto with Vaclav Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the London Symphony under Maxim Shostakovich and a coupling of Britten’s Cello Symphony and Walton’s Concerto with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, which was described by Gramophone magazine as “beyond any rival”. Julian Lloyd Webber’s partnership with John Lenehan began in the mid-1970s and they have since given recitals together all over the world. Julian Lloyd Webber plays the ‘Barjansky’ Stradivarius cello of c. 1690.
Jiaxin Cheng graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1997, and moved to New Zealand, where she gained a masters degree in 2001. She played regularly with both the Auckland Philhamonia Orchestra and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and formed the Aroha Quartet with three other musicians from China who had settled in New Zealand.
In 2007 she moved to London and has since performed at the Royal Festival Hall with both Julian Lloyd Webber and his older brother Andrew, billionaire composer Baron Lloyd Webber, who was also best man at their 2009 wedding. Julian and Jiaxin’s daughter Jasmine Orienta was born in 2011.