Piers Lane (piano), Ulster Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones (conductor)
Hyperion’s record of the month for January presents, for the first time, the original version of Delius’s Piano Concerto. Two years after completing this work in 1904, Delius recast it, rejecting the third movement and reorganizing other material. Perhaps thinking that the solo part wasn’t sufficiently pianistic, Delius also consulted a friend, the Busoni pupil Theodor Szántó, who rewrote the piano part in virtuoso style (with Delius’s ultimate approval). It is the Szántó version that has, until now, always been performed. With Delius’s original, characteristically refined orchestration also restored (from the orchestral parts that survive from the first performance in 1904), we can now hear this work as the composer envisaged before the involvement of another hand. The result is closer to what we think of as quintessential Delius. Piers Lane and David Lloyd-Jones form an ideal partnership, and the result is a revelation.
John Ireland’s Piano Concerto, written in 1930, was seen at the time as a British response to Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, and it has additional resonances of Ravel and Gershwin. The work was an immediate success and became the pre-eminent British piano concerto, performed by Clifford Curzon, Moura Lympany, Eileen Joyce, Gina Bachauer and Artur Rubinstein. Encouraged by its success Ireland planned to write a second concerto, but he only completed one movement, the Legend, in 1933. Once more Piers Lane and the Ulster musicians bring an engaging energy and flair to this exciting music.