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A marriage of musical minds.

Byline: with ARTS CATHERINE JONES

IT WAS when Julian Lloyd Webber started looking for a project he could do with wife Jiaxin that he realised the composing world was lacking in duets for their chosen instrument, the cello.

Undeterred, he decided if that was the case he was just going to have to generate the repertoire himself.

The result is A Tale of Two Cellos - a CD and now a live tour, coming to Liverpool, of music adapted for the most vocally human of instruments.

Julian admits: "If we weren't husband and wife, if we hadn't got married, I don't think it would necessarily have occurred to me to start looking around and making arrangements for two cellos.

"It's quite a fortunate thing that's happened, musically, for me and I hope for Jiaxin.

"It's actually brought this idea of trying to create a whole new repertoire for two cellos because I think it really is a combination that does work well."

The couple, who have a daughter Jasmine Orienta, "went through masses of music" to come up with the pieces which they specially arranged for the record, which features a wide range of influences.

Hence works like Sweet and Low and Greensleeves sit alongside Purcell, Monteverdi and a Shostakovich prelude, which was originally written for a film score and then adapted for two violins before the Lloyd Webbers further adapted it for two cellos.

"To me it's like opening a new page," says Shanghai-born Jiaxin. "Most of the songs I actually never heard before. We really did try to get music that really suits the two cellos and also to give audiences something different.

"And to me it was something new too, so I really enjoyed the process, listening to masses of music and trying to choose some."

The pair will perform a selection of work, as well as solo pieces, in an intimate show in the Concert Room at St George's Hall next month.

Julian particularly asked to play at the venue after a previous visit: "I just think it's a wonderful hall, and has been superbly renovated. I was really very taken with it, and I think for this kind of evening it's perfect."

The UK tour is the biggest project the couple have undertaken together.

They married in 2009, but first met when Jiaxin was studying a masters degree in New Zealand and Julian was playing a series of concerts there.

Later Jiaxin, who started studying cello at the age of six after being encouraged by her father (she says: "My parents always loved music, but they are not professional because of the Cultural Revolution") joined the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and played in concerts featuring Julian as well.

Now they're touring together. Julian says: "Really all the hard work was done preparing for the recording, which was difficult, we really had to work on a uniform interpretation which isn't easy. We had to move together on everything.

"But now we've done that, I think we can relax and enjoy ourselves."

While the 62-year-old is no stranger to Liverpool, it will be the first time Jiaxin has played in Shanghai's twin city.

If time permits, Julian also hopes to catch up with the musicians at Faith Primary School in his role as head of the national In Harmony project.

"I just feel the cello is an instrument that can express so many different emotions and so many different styles of playing," he says, adding: "The evening will be very informal.

"We'll both be introducing the pieces and will play some solos. It should just be a really enjoyable evening I think for all of us."

? Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber bring A Tale of Two Cellos to St George's Hall on February 4.

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IN HARMONY: Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2014
Words:635
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