"…'The Irish Piano' is a scintillating and sometimes whimsical recital that takes John Field as its starting point and spreads out across the whole of the island's music… McHale strikes just the right tone of contemplative wonderment and mischievous mythology… Fascinating from start to stop…"

Norman Lebrecht, Open Letters Monthly - 'CD of the Week', [read full review]

More reviews of 'The Irish Piano' from Culture NI, The Sunday Times, The Irish Times, Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine and MusicWeb International

"…There was no simple playing for effect here whatsoever: McHale constantly deployed his wide variety of dynamics to helpfully map out the music's architecture, and married a vivid pictorialism of response to each of the "exhibits" with a palpable sense of forward momentum through Mussorgsky's gallery. This was emphatically not a Pictures that ever sagged or felt episodic…"

Terry Blain, Bachtrack.com, May 2014 [read full review]

"…McHale played with cool authority and understated panache as one expected from a young pianist whose international career is in serious take-off mode. McHale has a classy touch and his partnership here with the RTÉ NSO had an equilibrium that allowed both classical and jazz to breathe together without threatening to smother each other…"

Dick O'Riordan, Sunday Business Post, January 2014 [read full review]

"…McHale's athletic exhibition on the florid showstopper [Liszt's Rigoletto Paraphrase] was thrilling…"

Bill Brownlee, Kansas City Star, November 2011

"…The pianist thrilled with his musicality and artistry, and shone alongside the Moscow Symphony in a performance that delighted the audience…"

El Diario del Fin del Mundo, April 2011 [for full review click here]

“…Demonstrating superb control of dynamics and a rich colour palette, McHale luxuriated in the dusky warmth of the final Ballade. With a tempo reminiscent of Michelangeli, McHale retained enough of a hint of darkness to prevent the piece from slipping into self-indulgence, effecting something close to transcendence. A final encore… [the Irish air My Lagan Love] summed up the evening's performance – sweetly elegant, technically assured and intensely musical. This pianist has made his mark…”

Una-Frances Clarke, www.musicalcriticism.com, June 2010 [for full review click here]

"…Rhapsody in Blue is not hot jazz, but under the fingers of soloist Michael McHale the cool colours were oh so beautifully painted. And his encore showcased his jazz piano in a stonking arrangement of Summertime…”

Mike Marsh, Bournemouth Echo, June 2010 [for full review click here]

"…Michael McHale… left a deep impression in his playing of Mozart's concerto no. 9 (the 'Jeunehomme') in the Hallé's Opus One programme… [He] can combine dramatic flair with faultless stylistic skill (as in the first movement cadenza), probe the depths of the writing (as in the slow movement), and mix fluency, bravura and suddenly surreal nostalgia - as in the finale. He's a player with a lot to give…”

Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News, November 2009 [for full review click here]

"...Pärt’s Hymn to a Great City - an uplifting two-piano tribute to New York - knocked me back through the purity of sound achieved by the overlapping of two separate recording tracks by McHale. This young award-winning Belfast pianist has an intuitive feel for music, and can cross musical boundaries effortlessly..."

Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post, June 2009 [for full review click here]

Click here for further reviews of “A Place Between” in International Record Review, BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, Classic FM Magazine and Musicweb International

Click here for reviews in the Guardian, Irish Times, Irish News and Belfast Newsletter of the Ulster Hall re-opening concert with Kenneth Montgomery/UO (Paganini Rhapsody)

"…Why can the playing of 25-year old Northern Irish pianist Michael McHale be as fluent and inspired as, say, Lang Lang, and yet we don't know him? …Michael McHale remains the discovery of the evening: a magician who glides across the keys…"

Christiane Peitz, Der Tagesspiegel, August 2008 [for full review click here]


“…[a] memorable performance by the 25 year-old Michael McHale of Rachmaninov’s Paganini-Rhapsody. Here we had direct, clear playing at its best, devoid of any trace of mannerism…”

Georg Pepl, Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine, August 2008


“…Bravura playing in the music of Franz Liszt drew extended ovations at pianist Michael McHale's recital at the Phillips Collection… He handled with gusto and skill the powerfully climbing themes and the thunderous climaxes…

Yet, one could draw deeper satisfaction from the more delicate and calibrated sides of McHale’s artistry that dominated this concert. At the start was a beautifully proportioned and energetic account of Mozart’s Sonata in C minor, K.457… McHale highlighted the work’s intricate construction and carefully spaced textures with a focused tone and sense of forward movement… a smart, restrained and fastidious display…”

Daniel Ginsberg, Washington Post, May 2007   [for full review click here]


“…an elegant sensibility, and bright, even-fingered articulation that was instantly engaging…”

Hilary Finch, The Times, March 2006


“…Irishman Michael McHale… used the resources of the concert grand to enhance the musical texture of [Mozart Piano Concerto] K.175…and added touches of mystery to its vigour…The double concerto [with Barry Douglas] was played with precision and brilliance, and the slow movement worked beautifully…”

Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News, March 2006       [for full review click here]


"…Next we heard Rachmaninov's famous Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini…[this] performance proved that McHale belongs to the international stage. His keen musical intelligence and his ability to produce a full range of expression were evident throughout… McHale displayed complete control of his formidable technique. Balance between orchestra and soloist was ideal and [conductor Takuo] Yuasa paid close attention to detail as well as to the overall sound. I was blown away by McHale's performance…"

Ruth McCartney, Irish News, August 2008 [for full review click here]

“…Throughout a programme that was demanding on technique and musicianship, there was no doubt about McHale’s ability to hold his audience’s attention. His playing was elegant, thoughtful and musically intelligent; and he has the technique to deliver.
Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor Op 13 (Pathétique) typified the recital in showing a firm control over balance, tone and dynamic shading. There was also a long-line sense of rhythm that made this sonata’s many surprises sound purposeful rather than quirky; and that depended as much on McHale’s knack for timing silence as on his clarity of phrasing.
In works as varied as the Beethoven sonata, Debussy’s Estampes, and the two Liszt pieces in the second half, the playing had an objective quality. Everything was in the right place, as indicated in the scores, and there was no sign of player ego…”

Martin Adams, Irish Times, February 2008

“…The first movement [of Haydn's Piano Trio in E flat Hob XV:30], essentially a piano solo with string obligatos, revealed McHale's absolute mastery of style…”

Declan Townsend, Irish Examiner, February 2008


“…The instrumental works played by Ioana Petcu-Colan (violin) and Michael McHale (piano) were offered as an uninterrupted sequence in which every phrase, every curve, every caress, every outburst, was shown as if it were the most treasurable of precious stones… McHale showed how to dispense completely with the associations of the piano as an essentially percussive instrument…”

Michael Dervan, Irish Times, February 2008


“…McHale…responded to each composer's every thought with a pianism that was tastefully gestured, delicately graded, and infallibly clear …”

Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times, August 2007


“…McHale, in particular, displayed a distinguished understanding of the music that belied his young age…”

Belfast Telegraph, August 2007


“…Precision and intelligent musicality were hallmarks of the lunchtime recital given by the young Northern Ireland pianist Michael McHale…his natural musicality, stylistic awareness, and easy authority at the keyboard are indicators of a secure and expansive future…”

Martin Adams, Irish Times, August 2007


“…The evening’s most rewarding contributions came from pianist Michael McHale in Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto… with a particularly winning, soft-spoken manner in the slow movement…”

Michael Dervan, Irish Times, July 2007


“…From the very first note this was a superb performance…the highly poetic and musically expressive phrasing had the audience hanging on every note…”

Ruth McCartney, Irish News, October 2005


 “…Belfast-born pianist Michael McHale…has good tone, natural taste, fine feeling …this was sincere and unaffected playing…”

Dermot Gault, Irish Times, April 2005


“…A remarkable young Belfast pianist has made a stunning debut with Barry Douglas in Dublin… Playing the Mozart Concerto for Two Pianos with Camerata Ireland, the pair captivated the audience with a performance of sheer genius…”

Belfast Telegraph, January 2005


“…The virtues which make Michael McHale a great pianist were all on display in the Elmwood Hall on Saturday night… He began with a simply magical performance of Estampes by Debussy… Through interpretations that put a personal stamp on the music without veering into idiosyncrasy to technically poised pianism that is never merely exhibitionist, McHale knew exactly how to capture the mood of each situation with a total command of phrasing, colour and rhythm…

Liszt's Rigoletto Paraphrase that followed really blew us away and its final three pages, especially the repeated octaves, were played effortlessly. The performance was profoundly moving and the audience completely captivated by it…

The interval was followed by Schubert's Trout Quintet. Michael McHale simply exploded in musicality and spontaneity here and although the whole quintet was superb, the concert was dominated by his masterful piano playing. It showcased the vivacity, accuracy and insight that Michael McHale brings to his work…”

Irish News, January 2004

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