World-famous cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber is as well known for his beautiful ‘Barjansky’ Stradivarius cello as he is for his virtuoso playing, and now he’s found the perfect microphone to capture the sound of his beloved instrument. We caught up with Julian back in March 2011 as he prepared for a UK and Europe tour, culminating in his 60th birthday concert at the Royal Albert Hall in April…
Julian Lloyd Webber has played the cello since he was a child and has studied, performed and collaborated with some of the world’s most famous musicians, including Yehudi Menuhin, Georg Solti, Stephane Grapelli, and premiered many new works for cello.
The last 12 months has seen Julian back in the studio, recording with his wife and performing on a new version of the South Bank Show theme by his older brother Andrew Lloyd Webber. Luckily, it seems he’s now found the perfect microphone to match his cello’s stunning sound. “Recently I was recording at Abbey Road Studios,” begins Julian, “and asked to use a vintage STC ribbon mic. The engineer there mentioned that he had ‘another’ ribbon mic [a Sontronics SIGMA] we could try. We did a blind test side by side and I went for the SIGMA!”
This informed choice on the part of Julian and Abbey Road’s head engineer Andrew Dudman was an important part of getting the right sound for the famous Lloyd Webber cello, a Stradivarius Barjansky from the 1690s. “My Barjansky cello is a huge part of my life,” says Julian, “and it is my ‘sound’ as a musician, so I am extremely fussy about how it’s recorded! So often microphones do not reproduce its true sound, but I have found the SIGMA produces a very true picture of the sound of my Stradivarius.”
Since he first encountered the Sontronics SIGMA at Abbey Road Studios back in October, Julian has used the microphone on various projects. “We’ve used the SIGMA for the Audio Network session at Abbey Road, for a reworking of the South Bank Show theme tune, which I did with my brother Andrew for Sky Arts and a first recording with my cellist wife Jiaxin, which comes out late March on the Classic FM/HMV series ‘The Full Works’.”
The South Bank Show theme session at Sphere Studios was caught on video, where the SIGMA can be seen in use on Julian’s cello - watch out at 3:30 and 7:15 in particular!
On all these projects, Julian has been able to introduce the Sontronics SIGMA to other musicians that he’s worked with - “It was a first for the last two engineers!” - and he continues to be impressed with all aspects of the SIGMA: “Everything seems thoroughly professional, and the microphones are beautifully packaged. I would certainly recommend Sontronics microphones to other people… it is wonderful to find mics that refer to the best of the past and work so truthfully in the present!”