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Sara Chang and Julian Lloyd Webber Release 'Phantasia' by Andrew Lloyd Webber

The name Lloyd Webber is synonymous with the musical world and brothers Julian and Andrew have both firmly made their mark with their award-winning work. Andrew Lloyd Webber has recently hit the spotlight again with his acclaimed new West End show The Woman in White, which opened in London last September, and with the internationally successful release of The Phantom of the Opera film at the end of last year. EMI Classics is now releasing new recordings of music from both of these musicals and the film, on a disc entitled Phantasia.

When Andrew Lloyd Webber started writing The Phantom of the Opera for the stage, he also had the idea of a special separate work for violin, cello and orchestra, with the violin assuming the role of Christine Daae and the cello playing the Phantom. He would call it Phantasia. He talked about this idea at length with Julian but almost twenty years passed before he would have time to bring it to life. Julian Lloyd Webber said "It was one of those ideas that always felt 'right' but neither of us seemed to have the time to develop it." The long wait proved to be a blessing in disguise. While The Phantom of the Opera film was in production, Julian met Geoff Alexander, arranger and orchestrator. He introduced Geoff to Andrew and this meeting brought the original Phantasia idea to fruition. The final work combines new music written specially by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the film with the original musical themes from the stage production of The Phantom of the Opera. It can be heard for the first time on this new recording.

The production and recording of Phantasia have also brought together two of the world's top musicians and string players for the very first time on stage or on disc: cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and violinist and exclusive EMI artist Sarah Chang. Julian Lloyd Webber said of Sarah "What can I say about Sarah Chang that hasn't already been said? Except, perhaps, that her stunning interpretation of the part of Christine makes it entirely believable that the Phantom would fall in love with her!"

This recording also features the beautiful orchestral suite from The Woman in White. The Woman in White is adapted from Wilkie Collins's celebrated Victorian novel and is currently playing to packed houses in London's West End, with a Broadway opening confirmed for early 2006. The role of the story's charming, yet sinister protagonist Count Fosco was created and sung by the hugely successful stage performer Michael Crawford and resulted in his winning the Variety Club Award for Outstanding Stage Performance of the Year.

Both Phantasia and The Woman in White suite are lead by Simon Lee, who has conducted many of the world's principal orchestras. He has worked with artists ranging from Kiri Te Kanawa to Björk, and recorded with such legendary stars as José Carreras, Vincenzo La Scola, Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, Maria Friedman and Primal Scream.

The combination of music and artists on this recording makes it a very special addition to the EMI Classics catalogue.

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