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CD Review

Andrew Lloyd Webber

EMI 558043

Phantasia

The Woman in White Suite

Julian Lloyd Webber, cello
Sarah Chang, violin
London Orchestra/Simon Lee
EMI 558043-2 61m DDD
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This CD is a joy and a revelation for both its choice of music and its presentation. The 'Phantom of the Opera will always remain one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest hits, and the beauty of its tunes certainly give it the aura of an opera rather than a stage musical.

'The Woman in White' is Lloyd Webber's latest venture, and if what I have heard is anything to go by, then this new musical will definitely command people's affections in no small degree. Lawrence Roman's orchestral suite not only succeeds in conveying the spooky atmosphere of the original show, but also reflects the psychological strength and passionate beauty of the score.

Wilkie Collins' tale of mystery and imagination is tailor made for the stage and this musical adaptation will certainly enhance the fame of this Gothic melodrama. The suite from 'Phantom' is the work of Geoffrey Alexander, orchestrator for such hit movies as Notting Hill and Brassed Off. Alexander's outstanding talents have not only included tunes from the original, but also pieces composed specially for the recent film version of the story.

I need not emphasize enough the wonderful work of art that Alexander has created; a work for violin, cello and orchestra that stirs the imagination and enchants the soul. Sarah Chang and Julian Lloyd Webber give fresh and stimulating interpretations, ably supported by the London Orchestra, whose playing under Simon Lee is always attentive to detail, rhythm and colour. How about 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Cats' for the next instalment.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech

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