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Geraint Lewis
Gramophone, April 2016

THE SPECIALIST’S GUIDE TO…British piano concertos

Stanford pupil John Ireland’s intimate relationships were often complex and unhappy. The end of a 10-year involvement with a former choirboy (the famous ‘Holy Boy’) rebounded into an infatuation with his student Helen Perkin. Even though this also ended bitterly, the concerto written for her as a Proms debut gift was soon being played by Rubinstein, among others. Lenehan understands its painful ecstasy. © 2016 Gramophone

Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, March 2012

Listening to Lenehan’s reading of the concerto…it’s not difficult so see why it’s one of Ireland’s most enduring works. There’s no mistaking the ardour of that opening tune, or the heart’s ease of the piano’s first entry. But then this music is a wellspring of delights, Lenehan’s bright, bubbly playing matched by that of the orchestra…

This is a an excellent bargain…Absolutely no such qualms about the solo pieces, which are as good as you’re likely to find anywhere. As for John Lenehan, I can’t imagine how I’ve missed a pianist of such talent, and I look forward to hearing more from him. As ever, the liner-notes are well written, and at budget price this CD is a good introduction to Ireland’s changing musical landscapes. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Alan Becker
American Record Guide, March 2012

this is obviously an addition to the excellent series Lenehan has been giving us of Ireland’s piano music. Two of the solo piano items (‘Pastoral’ and ‘Indian Summer’) are recorded here…Ireland collectors who value his infinitely lovely Impressionist images will definitely want to acquire them, as will everyone already collecting the series.

…another winner from the Naxos stable. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, March 2012

John Lenehan plays all of this music with consummate artistry and technical skill, and there’s not a single work on this disc that doesn’t give enormous pleasure. At Naxos’s budget price, it’s a steal, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Ireland’s music and would like to acquire a sampling of it. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

James Manheim, January 2012

uniquely powerful. The small piano works that round out the album are interesting…Ireland specialist John Lenehan’s tuneful performance of the piano concerto, with fine backing from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under John Wilson, catches the work’s somehow highly personal sense of enthusiasm and is well worth the price of admission. © 2012 Read complete review, December 2011

Expressive and filled with passages of longing that contrast well with high-spirited ones, it is the major work on a new Ireland CD on which pianist John Lenehan offers very well-played performances of both solo piano works and ones with orchestra. © 2011 Read complete review

John France
MusicWeb International, December 2011

I enjoyed this CD very much indeed and so I think will all enthusiasts of John Ireland’s music. John Lenehan gives an excellent and sympathetic account of all the works presented here and I certainly will listen to this disc again. The ‘new’ pieces are also worthwhile and add extra value to this fine CD. © 2011 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Hurwitz, December 2011

John Ireland[’s] Piano Concerto is a masterpiece…it offers a combination of romantic glamor, saucy wit, and lyrical expressiveness that’s quite personal and memorable. John Lenehan plays it as well as anybody has to date, with a very winning combination of fluidity in passagework and an easy rhythmic precision in the finale that sounds just right.

Legend, a tone poem for piano and orchestra, lives up to its name. The pieces on offer here really show Ireland’s range, from the passionate First Rhapsody to the poetic Sea Idyll and colorful Three Dances. Excellent sonics too. © 2011 Read complete review

Ivan March
Gramophone, December 2011

I am delighted to welcome to the catalogue a splendid new recording of what is undoubtedly the finest of all British piano concertos… Worthy to rank with the finest 20th-century works in this form, its poetic lyricism and distinctive melodic inspiration are in the ageless tradition of the greatest English music. After its jiggy first movement it offers one of the most gently beautiful slow movements of any piano concerto written last century, and its bright finale has an indelible main theme that you won’t be able to get out of your head once the work concludes. John Lenehan…is again at his finest here. …the RLPO is on first-class form under the understanding direction of John Wilson…

A CD not to be missed by all lovers of English music.

To read the complete review, please visit Gramophone online.

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, November 2011

Like a nostalgic fragrance slowly released the Ireland Piano Concerto saunters in. It is the least heroic of concerto starts. With it John Lenehan carillons his way into the fourth volume in his long-spaced Ireland survey on Naxos. The earlier piano solo volumes are 8.553700, 8.553889 and 8.570461.

The Concerto is a relaxed floral extravagance, for the most part languid, but at under 24:50 it does not test the patience. The middle movement seems to drift between anticipations of Finzi, pre-echoes of These Things Shall be and Elgar’s Serenade. The finale discovers rhythmic grit but plays along in the manner of a Divertimento.

The magical Legend is cut from a different cloth. The whole thing is dark and sinister—nothing remotely consolatory here…I have never heard anything quite like it.

Both works receive attentive, indeed rapt, performances as one would anticipate. John Wilson is a well-experienced English music practitioner.

There are many alternatives to the Concerto but none coupled in this way with the piano at the centre…direct comparisons are just not feasible.

The remaining 40 or so minutes—a generous helping—return us to Lenehan’s embrace with the solo piano music.

This is a generously filled disc addressing gaps and introducing good versions of the Concerto and Legend. Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2011

The fourth and last disc in John Lenehan’s much acclaimed survey of the complete piano music of John Ireland. The composer’s private life had not been without trials and tribulations. Then into its midst came a young piano pupil, Helen Parkin, who was to have a major impact on his music. He dedicated some fine songs to her, and in 1930 began work on the Piano Concerto also to carry her name. She gave the first performance at a London Prom concert that year in the Queen’s Hall, and four years later had a highly enthusiastic response to her premiere performance of the Legend, a more robust score for piano and orchestra. The disc then turns to Ireland’s works for solo piano from his younger years, the brilliant and passionate First Rhapsody dating from 1906 and written very much in the late Romantic era. We go back a further ten years for a student piece, Pastoral, only discovered many years after his death. Keyboard music did not feature greatly in this early period, though four years later he added the three-movement A Sea Idyll which paints a picture of his favourite subject. Three Dances date from 1913, their simplicity pointing to a use as teaching pieces. Critically acclaimed, Lenehan’s has proved him to be a most persuasive champion throughout the cycle. In the concerto he is excellent, his playing lucid, nicely paced and in the quiet passages possesses the desired limpid quality. Here, and in his powerful account of the Legend, he is admirably partnered by the Liverpool orchestra in fine form conducted by John Wilson. The sound is excellent, but the solo pieces have a slightly hollow quality.

Brian Wilson Download Roundup
MusicWeb International, October 2011

The Piano Concerto is a glowing and powerful work and it receives a performance to match here—one, indeed, to rival its major competitors…The new recording brings us a number of solo piano works. If you prefer these and/or are swayed by the price advantage and generous playing time of the Naxos, I see no reason to hold back.

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