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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Ireland: Piano Concerto Legend First Rhapsody Sea Idyll
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on January 6, 2012
The British composer John Ireland (1879-1962) is not a name well-known to many American classical music fans. Although he outlived many of the seminal names of the modern era, there is no trace at all in his work of the avant-garde currents that rocked classical music in the early twentieth century. His music is firmly tonal, melodious and generally Romantic in its sensibility, with a strong lyrical bent--less fervidly sensual than Delius; softer-grained and less vivid in personality than either Britten or Vaughan Williams. Nevertheless his compositions are very appealing, especially as well-played as they are here.

The cornerstone of this CD, last of a four-volume survey of Ireland's complete output for keyboard by the British pianist John Lenehan, is the Piano Concerto in E-flat from 1930, a large-scale work that balances brilliant virtuosity with lyrical melody in a satisfying manner. The one-movement Legend for piano and orchestra is more dour in cast. This is followed by three stand-alone solo works; the First Rhapsody (1906), while a bit faceless melodically, shows an assured grasp of virtuoso keyboard writing, while the "Pastoral" and especially "Indian Summer" exhibit Ireland's lyrical gifts to fuller advantage. The collection is rounded out with two contrasting sets, the lush textures of the three-movement Sea Idyll forming a foil to the naive but charming Three Dances, which the accompanying notes suggest may have been written as student compositions.

John Lenehan performs all of the repertoire with a surfeit of digital dexterity and ample musicianship, bringing out the diverse facets of this music with ease. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic provides colorful support. The variety of styles and moods offered here on this CD would seem to form an ideal introduction to Ireland's particular aesthetic. Incidentally, the notes (by Fiona Richards) to the recording, outlining the composer's somewhat turbulent personal life and how it inspired his music, are of unusual interest.
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on June 20, 2015
Ireland's piano concerto is an unqualified masterpiece, it is unabashedly romantic, with just enough wit to keep it from becoming too archly serious. Lenehan and Wilson play with obvious enjoyment here, as well as in the brooding tone poem for piano and orchestra Legend. The fill up on the disc are several pieces for solo piano. Ireland wrote exquisitely for the piano, and the First Rhapsody, A Sea Idyll, and especially Indian Summer, show him at his shimmering best. If you enjoy the piano, then you simply must get this recording.
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on May 17, 2015
John Ireland's Piano Concerto is really good and should be played more. It sounds kind of like Ravel's great Piano concerto. Naxos here did a good job as usual, a great recording of less well known music that deserves to be played and heard.
I'm really glad Naxos does this, because John Ireland has some really good music.
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on August 2, 2015
Beautiful and melodious work. I find myself listening to it quite often and never tiring of it's rich melodies.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon June 13, 2013
Ireland's piano concerto, well recorded here in 2011, is regarded as a fine British concerto from that period and Ireland's finest large scale work. The rest of the disc represents an overall picture of his work centred around the piano.

Both the concerto (1930) and the darker hued 'Legend'(1933) were originally written with the pianist Helen Perkin in mind who was widely respected as a gifted pianist at that time. The concerto itself is essentially a sunny work of an optimistic frame of mind. The Legend has a darker subject and was created as an evocation of an ancient civilisation with associations with lepers in the Sussex area of England near his home. These two works make an interesting and contrasting pair and are both well played by the soloist and the orchestra.

The remaining pieces are all for solo piano and range from the Listzian style of the First Rhapsody (1906)through to the quieter and more idyllic Indian Summer of 1932. The remaining pieces, Pastoral (1896), A Sea Idyll (1900) and Three Dances (1913) are all of a similarly gentle nature and make pleasant if undemanding listening. All of these are played with total sympathy by John Lenehan who has made three other successful albums of Ireland's solo piano music.

I would suggest that this disc is of sufficiently rewarding quality as to make it a serious proposition for anyone interested in purchasing the selection of music presented on it.
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