John Lill


"When pianist John Lill takes to the stage you are instantly aware of a magnetic presence. He enters with a dignified calm, unpretentious, a man with a single mission. The delivery is profound yet contained. His focus is within the music, never on himself. His objective is always to serve the composer."

The Scotsman, November 2015

"John Lill is, without a doubt, one of the finest pianists at work today and his undemonstrative appearance on the stage belies a fiercely passionate and romantic temperament."

Seen and Heard International, October 2010 

Unanimously described as one of the leading pianists of his generation, John Lill's career spans over 55 years, during which time he has given over 4,000 concerts. Lill originally studied at the Royal College of Music and with Wilhelm Kempff.  His rare talent emerged at an early age, giving his first piano recital at the age of nine. At eighteen he performed Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto under Sir Adrian Boult, immediately followed by his much-acclaimed London début playing Beethoven's 'Emperor' piano concerto at the Royal Festival Hall.  His early career flourished and was enhanced by many prestigious international prizes and awards. In 1970 he won the most coveted of these: the Moscow International Tchaikovsky Competition, further consolidating his already busy international concert schedule. Since then he has given concerts in over fifty countries, both as a recitalist and as a soloist with the world's greatest orchestras. 

John Lill's extensive repertoire includes more than eighty concertos, and he is acclaimed in particular as a leading interpreter of Beethoven, whose complete sonata cycle he has performed on several occasions in the UK, USA and Japan. In Britain he has given over 25 London Promenade concerts and regularly appears with all the major symphony orchestras. He has toured overseas with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham, Hallé, Royal Scottish National and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras.

He regularly performs in the European capitals, Russia, the Far East, South America, Australasia, (including several ABC tours) and he is a frequent visitor to the United States, where he has worked with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic and the Orchestras of Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Rochester, San Diego, Seattle and Washington.

More recently John Lill has performed with the St Petersburg, Rotterdam, Royal Stockholm, Czech, Oslo, London and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Hallé Orchestra, National Philharmonic of Russia, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Tonkünstler Orchestra and RTVE Orchestra Madrid, together with the Vancouver, Seattle, Indianapolis, Bournemouth, Royal Scottish National and Sapporo Symphony Orchestras. He also regularly gives recitals throughout the UK and Europe, USA, China, Russia, Japan and Australia. In celebration of his 70th Birthday, the 2013-14 season saw John embark on much acclaimed Beethoven complete sonata cycles in London and Manchester, as well as recitals at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, Warsaw’s Philharmonic Hall and the Grand Hall of St Petersburg Philharmonia. He also returned to Moscow to perform all the Beethoven concertos with the National Philharmonic of Russia and Vladimir Spivakov. More recently John has given concerts with the Tchaikovsky Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, as well as a UK tour with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra and extensive solo tours. The 2016-17season sees John perform with the Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw. He will also be reuniting with the St Petersburg Philharmonic in Edinburgh as well as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

John Lill has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon (Brahms solo works and second piano concerto), EMI (Complete Beethoven piano concertos with RSNO and Gibson), ASV (both Brahms piano concertos with the Hallé and Loughran plus the complete Beethoven sonatas) and Pickwick Records (Tchaikovsky first concerto with the LSO and Judd).  More recently he has recorded the complete Prokofiev sonatas with ASV and his recording of the complete Beethoven Bagatelles and piano concertos with the CBSO and Weller is available on Chandos.  He recorded Malcolm Arnold's Fantasy on a Theme of John Field (dedicated to John Lill) with the RPO and Handley for Conifer and the complete Rachmaninov concertos and solo piano works for Nimbus Records.  His recent recording projects have been with EMI (piano works by Schumann) and Signum Records (works by Brahms and Schumann plus Haydn piano sonatas).

John Lill has been awarded many Honorary Doctorates and Fellowships from British Universities, Colleges and Academies.  He lives in London and was awarded the OBE in 1977 and the CBE for his services to music in the 2005 New Year’s Honours’ List.

Please check with Terry Shew before publishing this biography.

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News & Features


Concerto No.1 in D Minor BWV 1052
Concertos Nos.2 & 3
All piano concerti
Choral Fantasy
Triple Concerto
No.1 Op.15 in D Minor
No.2 Op.83 in B-flat Major      
Piano Concerto Op.13
Piano Concerto No.1 Op.11 in E Minor
Piano Concerto No.2 Op.21 in F Minor
Symphonic Variations
Piano Concerto Op.16 in A Minor     
Piano Concerto No.1 in E-flat Major
Piano Concerto No.2 in A Major
No. 1 Op.25 in G Minor
Concerto for 2 pianos (in A-flat)
No.12 in A K414
No.15 in B-flat K450
No.17 in G K453
Nos.19-27 inclusive
No.1 Op.10 in D-flat Major
No.2 Op. 16 in g minor
No.3 Op.26 in C Major
No.5 Op.55
Nos.1-4 inclusive
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.13 
G Major
Concerto for the Left Hand
Concerto No.2 in G Major
Piano Concerto
Nos.1 & 2
Nos.1 & 2
Concert Fantasy

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Piano Concerto No.2: 03 March 2017

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Litton, The Anvil, Basingstoke

"[John Lill's] account was expansive, his ample tone always grounded by honesty of expression... The music’s emotional curve was well articulated, its coda dream-like (but never static) and allowing soloist and orchestra the freedom to generate their own chemistry. And so to the Finale, which was characterised by a crisp contribution from Lill, and almost mischievous lower-strings’ pizzicatos." David Truslove, Classical Source, 03 March 2017


Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini: 14 May 2016

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra/Pavel Kogan, Symphony Hall Birmingham

***** "The work's references to plainchant melodies linked it neatly with the Dies Irae used extensively in Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini which followed. Well-drilled and alert, the MSSO brought much freshness to this familiar score, combining with soloist John Lill to deliver a steely, gritty account with its structure all of a piece. Lill's fingerwork was fleet and fizzing, his chording well-weighted, not least in the first appearance of the grim Dies Irae itself." Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post, 16 May 2016


Piano Concert No.3: 12 May 2016

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra/Pavel Kogan, Cadogan Hall

"The latter Lill achieved with assured artistry and a practice that didn’t draw attention to itself. From the opening wistful clarinet solo to the helter-skelter final bars, Lill’s articulate, dynamic and weighty approach (with immaculate trills and staccatos) paid many dividends, opening up expressive possibilities often glossed over.... there was much expression and excitement unveiled, and what can be the real stumbling block, the slow centre of the Finale, otherwise given with plenty of adrenaline, was a flowing reverie rather than a mountain to climb." Colin Anderson, Classical Source, 12 May 2016


Piano Concert No.3: 27 January 2016

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Christoph Koenig, Poole Lighthouse

"... John Lill, arguably Britain's most talented pianist, then joined the orchestra for a moving and exquisite performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 3.... All three movements were a delight not least because Lill was so unassuming and humble in himself, allowing his immense musical talents to do the talking. Described by The Guardian as “the great Beethoven specialist”, you can clearly see why." Stephanie Hall, Bournemouth Daily Echo, 28 January 2016


Solo recital: 06 November 2015

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

"...[Lill] simply blew us away with a reading of Beethoven’s last sonata, No32 Op111, that ultimately proved less is more. Lill tuned into its elemental intensity, evoking a magical sense of peace and resignation as the work drew to its quiet conclusion." Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 09 November 2015


Piano Concerto No.2: 21 July 2015

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes, St David's Hall, Cardiff

***** The near-capacity audience listened in awed silence as Lill gave a commanding performance of the Adagio sostenuto second movement. Lill eschewed a sentimental approach to the music, preferring a clarity and poise which heightened the sense of brooding drama and tragedy.

His playing against a subtly coloured background provided by low woodwind and horns lifted the music from the gloomy C Minor to a radiant E major. Pianist and orchestra united to bring the third movement to a rejoicing conclusion that was thrillingly emotional. Peter Collins, Wales Online


Piano Concerto No.4: 14 January 2015

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Cristian Macelaru, Lighthouse, Poole

Lill’s presence at the piano is always one of great calm and repose, as he sits quietly waiting to play. He delivered his performance with the weight of years of experience behind him, without show, flash or artifice. In the first movement, his playing was crisp and his interpretation authentic, with a lovely warmth in the quieter passages. Phil Smith, BachTrack


Piano Concerto No.2: 23 October 2014

Royal Northern Sinfonia/Mario Venzago, Sage Gateshead

***** Lill, arguably the leading British concert pianist of his generation, shows no signs of diminishing powers at this stage in his 55-year career. He continues to be that flamboyantly gifted musician seen across the world playing with all of the great orchestras...what a treat it was, with Lill playing with both the power and the restraint that the score demands. Rob Barnes, The Journal


Piano Concerto No.1: 9 May 2014

BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Tadaaki Otaka, St David's Hall, Cardiff

*****  Lill offers nothing but his deeply considered interpretation of the music, and that is more than enough. His performance of the Brahms Piano Concerto No 1 in front of a near-capacity audience was a masterclass in concert performance and one that will be cherished by those who heard it for some time to come...It was a match made in heaven as the two major figures in classical music combined to make music of the highest order.The musical chemistry between soloist and conductor was evident from the start. It was a meeting of musical minds which produced a performance that was both impassioned and reflective. It is difficult to describe the pure beauty Lill drew from the Adagio, but the absolute silence of the audience spoke volumes. Peter Collins, Wales Online

Recital: 30 April 2014

Benaroya Hall, Seattle

Lill played a demanding program with seemingly inexhaustible energy...this program was one that could well have been chosen by a youngster keen to show off his skill, all great works of music and technically difficult to play well. But in Lill’s playing there was a difference. Yes, the speed of runs was impressive, but in Mozart they were light and articulated, in Schumann they rolled, in Prokofiev they were urgent, impulsive. At all times they were clean, clear, and sensitively phrased. Never, never did Lill pound the piano, nor did he ever make the music sound hurried, except where it was musically required. His hands and arms seemed relaxed, just rippling over the keys, his body stayed quiet, and the music poured out. Philippa Kiraly, Seattle Times

Recital: 20 February 2014

National Concert Hall, Dublin

***** John Lill’s playing of four Beethoven piano sonatas is insightful and always absorbing. His main purpose seems to be to reveal Beethoven’s music unmediated by his own ego...Each of the four sonatas brims with authority, with deep understanding, and with command of detail and of the work as a whole. Such authority comes from Lill’s lifetime of experience with Beethoven’s music, for which he has a deep and internationally recognised affinity. Martin Adams, The Irish Times
**** At last night’s concert, it struck me that the 70 year old John Lill may be aptly compared to one of the great Bordeaux – a Château Lafite or a Latour perhaps: profound, poetic and intense, whose grandest statements improve with the decades. With a career spanning over five decades, there was a concomitant depth and an architectural grandeur in Lill’s interpretation of the all-Beethoven programme in last night’s performance...Lill’s account of the Pastoral possessed an inner stillness that is much called for in this reflective piece. It was immaculately phrased throughout, as Lill allowed the music to unfold...A standing ovation was thoroughly merited, not only for this concert but for his over fifty years of music-making.
Andrew Larkin,


Piano Concerto No.1: 1 February 2014

Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Douglas Boyd, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

**** The slow movement was simply breathtaking, Lill weaving the solo line like a spinal silken thread, around which Boyd’s sensitive shaping of the orchestral commentary created a timeless beauty. A performance, made to look so simple, that will rank among the truly memorable. Ken Walton, The Scotsman
There could have been no more appropriate repertoire for the occasion than Brahms's mountainous First Piano Concerto, for which, in my view, Lill is almost uniquely equipped in the colossal physical and intellectual firepower required to make absolute sense of a piece that some find (wrongly) cumbersome and ungainly.

Lill's architectural command of the large canvas of Brahms's huge concerto has been well documented here over the decades. And it was no less awesome on Saturday, displaying the rich plurality of Brahms's themes, the emotional volcano that bubbles at the heart of the great slow movement, and the spring-loaded propulsion of energy in the fantastic finale. But if there was a single feature that characterised this performance, it was that Lill's playing absolutely confirmed and underlined the unerring rightness of Brahms's inspiration in putting this gigantic masterpiece together in his twenties, despite some doubts in the composer's own mind. Conductor Douglas Boyd and the RSNO played to the hilt for the great man, with all their weight and authority. Michael Tumelty, Herald Scotland
This concert was touted in the RSNO Programme as a celebration of John Lill’s 70th birthday and, sure enough, Lill’s was the finest contribution to the evening.  He is exactly the sort of artist that you can imagine being right at home in Brahms’ epic first piano concerto.  He has the stamina for Brahms’ great displays of technique, and his perpetuum mobile left hand drove the Rondo finale like an engine.  He had plenty of poetry too, however, such as the moment of the piano’s first entry where it tries to pour oil on the troubled waters of the opening tutti, or the beautiful chordal subject that serves as a contrast to the first movement’s anguished main theme.  Hearing him was exciting, often thrilling, and an exhilarating way into this great masterpiece. Simon Thompson, Seen and Heard International


Complete Piano Sonatas

Bridgewater Hall & Cadogan Hall

The ‘Appassionata’ (1805) could hardly be called neglected, but has equally suffered its share of Romanticised misrepresentation...The opening Allegro began persuasively in a mood of uncertainty tinged with artlessly Lill conveyed the textural flowering of the variations as the music takes flight before it touches on a modulating pause that sets off the finale: one whose moto perpetuo underpinning here affords anxiety rather than diversion, as it unfolded with an impulsiveness that spilled over into the coda in which Beethoven fairly seizes the music by its throat on the way to the stabbing final chords.

A laudable conclusion, then, to a recital that launched the cycle in impressive fashion. Lill’s programme note spoke of his dislike for the term “interpretation” as implying wilful intervention in the work at hand. No-one could accuse these performances of diluting or obfuscating the essence of Beethoven's music though, for no other pianist gets to its essence like John Lill. Richard Whithouse, ClassicalSource
As probing and as complete a performance as Lill can have given of a Sonata such as Beethoven might have surpassed in profundity but not in its unadulterated joy. That it was greeted by a standing ovation says much about the achievement of this cycle so far, and about expectation for what is still to come. Richard Whitehouse, ClassicalSource
As inclusive and as satisfying a cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas as has heard in London during recent years: one reaffirming John Lill as a communicator of the piano medium’s ‘New Testament’ with few equals. Richard Whitehouse, ClassicalSource


Piano Concerto No.1: 18 July 2013

Hong Kong Sinfonietta/Yip Wing-Sie, Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall

Soloist John Lill's youthful vigour probably rivals that of someone half his age. His versatility was evident not only in masterful control in the slow movement, but also his ebullience in the finale. Alan Yu,


Piano Concerto: 12 March 2013

BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Jac van Steen, Brangwyn Hall Swansea

Before the show, John Lill confessed he'd played Swansea so many times that he'd lost count. He estimated about 40. But his latest performance, possibly his 41st in the Brangwyn Hall, is one that will live long in the memory. Certainly for those watching, at least.
The veteran soloist performed an impeccable rendition of Schumann's Piano Concerto, building up from an ostentatious opening movement to the energetic, spirited ending, resulting in a rapturous and well-deserved round of appreciative foot stamping applause from the Swansea faithful.

Mark Rees, This is South Wales


Piano Concerto No.2: 13 April 2012

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Domingo Hindoyan, Royal Festival Hall, London

He was in typically focused form and gave a selfless and perceptive performance that elevated this compact concerto to a new plane through playing at once crisp, sparkling, subtly nuanced and directly expressive. The first-movement cadenza was of strength and fantasy, the slow movement was given rare eloquence, and the finale enjoyed Lill's puckish and rambunctious approach - or rather he knows just how the music goes and brought it to witty life. Indeed, throughout, one hung on every note, each one recognizable but seemingly new-minted. Colin Anderson,


Piano Concerto No.24: 6 April 2012

Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz, Benaroya Hall, Seattle

Lill and Schwarz seemed in complete rapport with each other, orchestra and soloist exactly together and in balance, so that Lill's fine playing could easily be heard. Passion and drama are present in this concerto, but while both Lill and Schwarz never neglected them, it was the tenderness and lyricism inherent in Lill's playing that stayed in the mind. He performed his own cadenzas, in classical style, appropriately bravura but never overdone. Philippa Kiraly, The Seattle Times
Pianist John Lill brought a refined elegance to his performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No.24 in C Minor...Under the fingers of a legendary pianist like Lill, the melodic lines and textures of a Mozart piano concerto come alive. Lill brought eloquence and meaning to every note, collaborating well with Schwarz and the orchestra to enhance the effects of one of Mozart's most dramatic piano concertos. Dana Wen, The Sun Break


Piano Concerto No.4: 20 February 2012

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra/Bramwell Tovey, Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver

Lill, hailed as one of the foremost interpreters of Ludwig van Beethoven, delivered the composer's Piano Concerto No.4 in G Major, Op 58 with an elegance free of flamboyance. With its striking opening solo piano chords - which Lill delivered with a gentle, refined lyricism - the concerto quietly but firmly establishes the piano as the central figure in a dialogue with the orchestra. Lill's virtuosity is beyond question...but the most magical moments he created were not when he was crisply tackling bubbling phrases at lightening speed, but during the more introspective parts, particularly in the second, 'Andante con moto' movement. In such passages he was able to convey a great authenticity of feeling, without ever spilling over into sentimentalism. Jessica Werb,

Recital: 10 February 2012

St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury

Power, dynamic contrast, fluidity and sheer delight in the beauty of the music- these are the hallmarks of John Lill's playing over the last 40 years...We were in the hands of a master of his arts who lets the composer speak through him and the result is spell-binding and thoroughly satisfying! Richard Duncan, Shropshire Music Trust

Recital: 13 January 2012

Wathen Hall, London

John Lill is steeped in the 'X factor', that indefinable ingredient which separates the very good performers from the magical ones. St Paul's School's Wathen Hall was the ideal venue for this lesson in musical magic, combining the intimacy of a small venue with the advantages of a pleasant acoustic and superb piano.
Lill took to the stage with a characteristic lack of fuss, launching straight away into Mozart's luminous Sonata in F major, K332. His glowing account served to partly elucidate the mystery of the elusive 'X factor': in his hands, the well-known sonata felt fresh, as though Lill had composed the piece in his dressing room prior to arriving on stage. This magical effect was further heightened by his enraptured audience; the ability to hold the attention of his audience throughout an entire sonata is another component of Lill's superb artistry.
Schumann's Faschingsschwank aus Wien followed the light-hearted cheek of Mozart's finale, allowing Lill to revel in a very different range of emotions. His ability to switch instantly from the clarity of the Mozart sonata to the Romantic drama of Schumann's five-movement portrait of Vienna's Carnival demonstrated yet another facet of the Lill artistry, this ability to produce completely different sounds from the same instrument, so that one might swear that a different pianist performed the two works. This ability to play absolutely in style was further demonstrated by the last work in the first half, Prokofiev's Toccata, where Lill's dispassionate delivery of the showpiece emphasised the machine-like nature of the repeated toccata figure.
Brahms's Three Intermezzi, Op.117 returned to the world of the Mozart sonata, a gently glowing performance which held the audience captive. Lill's superlative musicality brought a huge range of colour to these beautiful miniatures, carefully balancing every line in the texture until the piano began to take on the sounds of a group of singers.
In the final piece of the programme, Beethoven's Sonata No.23 'Appassionata', this chamber choir grew into a full orchestra. The piece demands a huge amount from the pianist, putting both lyrical and dramatic playing to the test...An earth-shattering Presto ended the Sonata, reminding us of the formidable technical ability on which Lill has built his artistry.
Helen Fraser,


Piano Concerto No.2: 12 January 2012

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kees Bakel, Guildhall, Portsmouth

No musician is less showy than Lill - and none more rigorous of intellect, more deep and delicate in tone, more precise in detail and more aware of the long view. How keen was his interplay with soloists within the orchestra in Brahms's second piano concerto, and how rightly appreciative he was of Jesper Svedberg's rich, lyrical cello in the slow movement. Mike Allen, The Portsmouth News

Recital: 20 September 2011

Fairfield Halls, London

This recital, the first to be given on Fairfield Halls' new Steinway concert grand, could not have had a finer inauguration than John Lill's connoisseurs' programme, nor could the audience have witnessed finer interpretations of these four masterpieces than were given by the artist who is surely the greatest living British pianist, bar none...Lill's tempos were ideal, and his touch, phrasing, chording and sheer intellectual grip raised one's understanding of the work by several cubits.
Such technical and musical comments could be applied to Lill's performance of the 'Waldstein', which was easily the greatest this commentator has heard live in sixty years of concert-going: the manner by which Lill unfolded (that is the word) the opening theme of the finale and the tonal graduations and unbelievably affecting phrasing of that entry will long stay in the memory. Not only that and other qualities, but the structural cohesion of the Sonata (often rendered puzzling by less imaginative or knowledgeable pianists) was as if revealed anew.
Chopin's F minor Ballade also benefited from Lill's structurally cohesive approach, his phrasing an absolute joy. Following was Brahms's Handel Variations and Fugue, which may not quite be a flawless masterpiece, although Lill's account almost convinced us that it is, but it is surely impossible to imagine a greater or more convincing performance than this: the left-hand in Variation IV and the repeated notes in Variation VIII were superbly woven within the myriad textures, and even the concluding Fugue (as an example of which neither Bach nor Mozart, nor Beethoven for that matter, would have given high marks) was performed with such wholeness as to make us wonder whether our preconceptions were misplaced. This was a stunning recital from a true master.
Robert Matthew-Walker,


Piano Concerto No.3: 11 May 2011

Orchestra of the Swan/David Curtis, Cadogan Hall, London

Lill, in great form, gave a seasoned yet fresh assumption of the piano part, crisply played and musically intelligent, with subtle and telling changes of volume, confiding, delicately accommodating of the orchestra, and with the first-movement cadenza fully integrated into the whole yet not without its own powerful rhetoric. The slow movement was spaciously treated, its initial inwardness sensitively sounded and blossoming into an idyllic reverie, while the finale enjoyed fortitude, poise and lilt culminating in a rambunctious coda. Colin Anderson,


Piano Concerto No.2: 22 October 2010

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Josep Caballé Domenech, Royal Festival Hall, London

Half way through the slow movement of the Rachmaninov Concerto, I realised that I was not listening to a pianist, but a true artist, someone who has given himself wholly to the music he is playing, and immersed himself in the fabric of the piece and is living every second of it. John Lill is, without a doubt, one of the finest pianists at work today and his undemonstrative appearance on the stage belies a fiercely passionate and romantic temperament. I was reminded of that aristocrat of the piano – Solomon; a man who couldn’t play an ugly note, whose phrasing was impeccable, and who was always the servant of the composer. John Lill has the same outlook and prodigious abilities. Tonight’s performance of Rachmaninov’s most famous work gained from Lill’s understatement, his refusal to appear as the virtuoso solely for the sake of virtuosity, his command of colour and expression and the most exciting, and careful, use of rubato. Caballé–Domenech and the Royal Philharmonic were as one with Lill, working together to ensure that what is too often accepted as an old warhorse emerged as a fine young stallion. It’s performances as good as this which make concert going such a joy for me. Bob Briggs, Seen and Heard International


Piano Concerto No.2: 23 January 2010

Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

"John Lill's performance of Shostakovich's ice cold Second Piano Concerto was among the evening's most elevated moments.  He's an old master that has never lost his touch, resisting the temptation to make the opening unison melody anything other than a statement of intellectual intent, and equally filling the slow movement with a quiet unassuming passion that spoke of genuine mastery."
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman
Exhilaration continued to flow during John Lill's punchy performance of Shostakovich's Second Piano Concerto with some remarkably dreamy playing from the great pianist in the gorgeous slow movement.  The Glasgow Herald

Recital: 1 November 2009

Royal Festival Hall, London

The Brahms pieces were deeply and completely satisfying, the Two Rhapsodies played with technical suppleness and emotional fire and musing – as well as underlying logic – the G minor being especially hypnotic in its flexibility and seriousness of purpose. To end the concert, Handel’s Theme was crisply delivered, the first of Brahms’s Variations on it given with foot-tapping vitality, ensuing that contrasts – either of personality or dynamics – were often captivating and part of the whole, the closing Fugue glorious in its arrival at the summit. Colin Anderson,
The climax of the recital was Lill's compelling account of the Handel Variations Op 24, the masterpiece in which Brahms achieves a synthesis of tradition and modernity in the keyboard repertoire that in orchestral music he only achieved much later, in the fourth symphony. Lill's performance had real purpose, moving from a spacious account of the early numbers to an increasingly urgent rendering of the late variations and the mighty culminating fugue. Martin Kettle, The Guardian


Piano Concerto No.2: 10 October 2008

Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz, Benaroya Hall, Seattle

The piano part is one of the busiest in the repertoire and Lill, a welcome returnee, played it as though it was the easiest thing in the world, his hands flying over the keys at times almost in a blur of movement. At the same time they were relaxed and rippling over the keys with never a missed note, in a performance that was never just a vehicle for showing off, but thoughtfully musical. Philippa Kiraly, Seattle Post Intelligencer


Piano Concerto No.2: 19 March 2008

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Sanderling, Royal Festival Hall, London

The good news is that this veteran of the keyboard (winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1970) is still a majestic presence. From his very first entry, mellow and relaxed, fingers caressing more than compressing the keys, one was immediately drawn in by the unforced, unselfconscious beauty of the sound. In a work positively radiating nostalgia, Lill’s touch was entirely in character. Edward Seckerson, The Independent


Piano Concerto No.2: 7 December 2007

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Stefan Solyom, City Hall, Glasgow

No-one could have been disappointed…with Lill as the undoubted captain of the ship, the Brahms hit a monumental note.  There was nothing flashy or superficial in Lill’s vision of it.  Carving out its meaty contours with cool-headed determination, it was a performance driven by trenchant intellect and unflinching authority. Conrad Wilson, The Herald

Recital: 26 November 2007

Cadogan Hall, London

Lill here gave a recital in which the music was the only thing that mattered…Haydn’s grand sonata was given a magisterial account with plenty of light and shade, a deeply thoughtful performance of variegation and searching – the slow movement, very broadly paces, especially so – with the finale nimble, fired by drive and bravura, and always articulate...Lill’s way with Chopin is unsentimental and wholesome – very much to the music’s advantage, so that volcanic eruption at the Nocturne’s centre was organically arrived at and delivered with internal rather than applied power before returning to rapt expression…Surprisingly, Lill offered no encore, but this had been a satisfying recital in terms of correspondences, contrasts and shape – and was brought off by Lill at his considerable best. Colin Anderson,


Piano Concerto No.2: 18 October 2007

Hallé Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Lill…has been, whoever he plays with, a piano soloist of unimpeachable quality for more than a quarter of a century…John Lill is a master of that kind of comptemplative, serene deep feeling, and he is also still as much up for the virtuoso helter-skelter writing of the concerto’s outer movements as any young’un. Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News