Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Wigmore Hall Recital Review

New Internet review of Wigmore Hall Recital on September 10 2006 at 'music on the web':

Seen and Heard Recital Review. Read in full at:

Kabalevsky, Miaskovsky, Shostakovich, Stevenson & Shchedrin: Murray
McLachlan (piano). Wigmore Hall, 10.09. 2006

Murray McLachlan’s recordings for Dunelm have always struck me as a mixed
bag (see here for my reviews of his Busoni and Chisholm) so it was good to
see him live, exceeding all expectations. This programme bristled with
difficulties, none of which seriously stretched him.

The Kabalevsky was the Third Sonata (for excellent recorded versions of
this, try either Werner Haas on a fascinating multi-disc set, or
Moiseiwitsch on a much cheaper Naxos disc). This 1945 work is an ideal
first item as it poses no real difficulties for the listener but is
nevertheless superbly crafted. McLachlan articulated the opening ‘Allegro
con moto’ very well (straight in, no settling at the piano), and just
avoided overloading the notorious Wigmore acoustic. He saw parts of the
first movement as almost Impressionist in conception, and located
late-Liszt-like dark sonorities in the second movement. The circus-like
finale had more than a twang of the slapstick about it.

McLachlan recorded Miaskovsky’s 1942 Song and Rhapsody, Op. 58 for Olympia
(OCD217). Interesting to hear Miaskovsky in context here (he taught
Kabalevsky, and the two were actually living in the same house when Op. 58
was composed!). The Song is very nostalgia-laden (McLachlan projected the
melody well) while the Rhapsody is unpredictable, as every good Rhapsody
should be, shifting hither and thither while flowing naturally all the
while. Fascinating.

It was the inclusion of both of the Shostakovich Sonatas that originally
drew me to this programme. McLachlan laid into the First in no uncertain
fashion (it was uncomfortable even from the very back of the hall). His
agenda was clearly to expose the extremes this work explores (the use of
the left-hand fist certainly added to the visual effect). The dynamic
range utilized was huge (as was the pause after a sequence of low-register
aggregations). Memorable.

The Second Sonata was reserved for the second half. Possibly he was
getting tired, as finger slips were creeping in (the first half was
notable for its accuracy), the work’s angularity was somewhat underplayed
and the slow movement could have looked further inward. It was left to the
finale to remind us of what a fine player McLachlan is. His spinning of
the long unaccompanied line was mesmeric; he brought Handel to mind in the
dotted Variation VIII and he generally had the measure of this movement.

Interesting to compare McLachlan with Donohoe at the QEH in March.
McLachlan made the stronger impression of the two by far (and played from
memory), seeming to travel more often to the heart of this impressive

Preceding this was a work by Ronald Stevenson, the Recitative and Air
(DSCH). Apparently composed on a four-hour long train journey, this is a
work that despite some really peaceful moments and an obvious Bach link
leaves an impression of grayness and anonymity. Much more interesting was
the final item on the programme, Rodion Shchedrin’s Tschastuschki:
Concerto for Piano Solo, ‘Naughty Limericks’. Almost jazz-like and
possessed of unbuttoned virtuosity, this work is a virtuoso exploration of
the irreverent folk-songs of its title. McLachlan seemed particularly
suited to the toccata-like passages, but also reveled in the
Petrushka-like bitonalities and the irreverent vamp-till-ready
accompaniments. Great fun.

This was a memorable, intelligently planned recital – I look forward to
hearing McLachlan live in concert again.

Colin Clarke


At 11:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Edward Tomanek and I am your student,I have auditioned and got a place in Chetham's School of Music(where you work).
I would like to thank you for teaching me.

to Mr.McLachlan

from Edward(your student)


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