Tuesday, October 24, 2006

'THe Herald' Shostakovich Tour Review by Michael Tumelty

This review from ‘The Herald’ on October 11 2006 comes from a lunchtime recital for Strathclyde University and featured the first half of the Wigmore programme from September 10th. The concert is part of the ongoing national recital tour, sponsored by the UK Shostakovich Society. Part two of the Wigmore programme will reach Glasgow on October 31 and Nov 1st (see tour dates):

MURRAY MCLACHLAN, Ramshorn, Glasgow
Michael Tumelty
Pianist Murray McLachlan couldn’t keep the mischievous twinkle out of his eyes yesterday as he faced his near-capacity audience at Ramshorn. “Don’t worry”, he reassured the crowd, most of whom were clearly shattered. “That was a one-off.”
The one-off in question was Shostakovich’s First Piano Sonata, little-known, seldom-played, but one of the loudest, most aggressive and most violent pieces in the entire literature of the keyboard. McLachlan gave the sonata a rare outing, a committed, impassioned pounding and, altogether, a good seeing-to by placing it as the final item in the first of his two Glasgow recitals entitled Shostakovich and his Comrades, designed to mark the centenary of Russia’s greatest composer of the last century and the release of McLachlan’s latest CD, which features the music in his touring programme.
From start to end, with here and there a lull for some ominous thunder, the sonata, written when Shostakovich was barely out of his teens, represents a young man’s assault on his listeners’ ears and preconceptions, as well as a musically-virile young composer’s display of self-awareness of his own prodigious skills.
At the heart of the otherwise non-stop, motoric, percussively-lunatic sonata lies a single moment of respite, where the music implodes before starting over. McLachlan executed a spectacularly theatrical collapse at this moment, lying in a heap at the bottom of the bass register of the piano, fists and head buried in the keyboard. It wasn’t a stunt, but it was certainly breathtaking.
A fabulous recital, with the Shostakovich garlanded by other splendid and woefully-neglected rarities from Kabalevsky and Myaskovsky. More in three weeks.


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