JOHN IRVING  |  PERFORMER

‘Superb…skilled at bringing out the colours and beauties of the piano…a real treat.’ MusicWeb

I started playing the piano aged 7. My parents thought it would be a good idea to get hold of a piano and for me to start having lessons. Whether or not that proved an accurate prediction, at it saved my aunt’s battered old upright from going to the breaker’s yard….

Ever since those early days, my main interest has always been in music of the ‘long’ eighteenth century. Eventually, there came a point when I realised that I simply couldn’t capture the sound I was seeking on a modern piano. The much lighter and articulate touch of fortepianos, clavichords and harpsichords suited my physical connection to this music (as well as my aural appreciation of the way it ‘speaks’) far more effectively. I am very lucky to have a wonderful Viennese grand by Paul McNulty (a copy of a Walter piano from c.1795), on which I have performed and recorded quite extensively. Playing this instrument taught me huge amounts about the nature of Mozart’s musical language in particular.

‘John Irving’s commanding performance was so assured… moments of real excitement’ Bristol Classical

I make no claims to ‘authenticity’ (a term those of us in the period instrument world never use anymore). I’m not ‘recreating the sound of Mozart’s sonatas as the composer intended’. How could we ever know that? I’m exploring sound possibilities that might be produced by instruments carefully and lovingly built using techniques and materials known in Mozart’s day. I also choose to play in ways that are informed by documentary evidence from his time.

Nowadays, I have begun to discover ways in which this learning can be applied back on the modern piano. My advocacy of the fortepiano has been described by some reviewers as displaying ‘missionary zeal’, though I’m now much more relaxed about performing this repertoire on modern instruments too. ‘Historically-informed’ performance ought to be liberating, rather than imprisoning, surely?

Read a recent interview with John for Mozart Circle Concerts – here


Read an interview with Frances Wilson (Cross Eyed Pianist) about my work as a performer – here

John features in several films recorded specially for inclusion in The Mozart Project – the 5* internationally best-selling interactive book on Mozart for iPad. Available on the iTunes Store, The Mozart Project was described by Stephen Fry as ‘a completely new kind of book’. John wrote several chapters and appears in a number of video and audio recordings within it.


John Irving discusses the Viennese Fortpianos of Anton Walter, and performs Mozart on a recent copy of one of Walter’s instruments – here


AUDIO SAMPLES FROM CD RECORDINGS

Josef Haydn Piano Sonatas CD: here

Mozart On the Haas Clavichord CD: here

Sonatas from the Court of Salzburg : here


Mozart’s Piano Concerto in F, K.413, First Movement performed by ENSEMBLE DeNOTE below:

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Watch a short video of John introducing a recently restored Broadwood grand piano at the historic Manoel Theatre in Valletta, Malta

Watch performances by John on the Cini Foundation’s 1823 Jakesch grand piano July 2015) [at 12’01” & 18’00”] below:

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Watch John on Video from The Mozart Project iBook:

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