Thursday, November 09, 2006

Herald Review November 1st

This review from ‘The Herald’ on November 1st 2006 comes from the second lunchtime recital at Ramshorn Theatre, Glasgow and featured the second half of the Wigmore programme from September 10th. The concert is part of the ongoing national recital tour, sponsored by the UK Shostakovich Society.

MURRAY MCLACHLAN, Ramshorn, Glasgow
Michael Tumelty

Murray McLachlan’s second recital yesterday in his short series entitled Shostakovich and his Comrades, marking the centenary of the Russian composer’s birth, was a very different animal from the first.
The core of the programme was a rare performance of Shostakovich’s Second Piano Sonata, written during the war years but bearing no resemblance, as far as I could judge, to any of the great orchestral works of the period. The rippling passages in its first movement surrounded a pawky little march that apparently paid lip-service to Soviet realism, though, as McLachlan pointed out, then underlined in his penetrating performance, the music might well have been coloured with that sardonic touch so typical of the composer.
It was, however, in its extraordinary slow movement that the sonata made its most striking impression, with expressionistic music that might have come straight out of the Second Viennese School in another country and a radically different culture, though this, too, was undercut by the typically dry staccato music with a hint in its tread of a funeral march. The finale, stunningly played by McLachlan, was a dazzling example of the theme and variations species, where Shostakovich, in a masterpiece of coherence and clarity, never once let the theme slip out of focus.
In prefacing the Shostakovich with Ronald Stevenson’s powerfully eloquent and haunting Recitative and Air, a memorial to the Russian composer built on the notes of his motto theme, DSCH, McLachlan broadened the depth and scope of his survey of little-known Russian treasures, before winding up a superb recital with Shchedrin’s lunatic and madcap Naughty Limericks Concerto, in which the Keystone Cops teamed up with Road Runner a la Russe.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Manchester Evening News Shostakovich CD review

Manchester Evening News Review

October 20th 2006


Shostakovich and his comrades (Dunelm)
Kabalevsky: Sonata no. 3
Myaskovsky: Song and Rhapsody
Shostakovich: Sonatas nos 1 & 2
Ronald Stevenson: Recitative and Air (DSCH)
Shchedrin: Naughty Limericks.
Murray McLachlan (Dunelm DRED 0264, mid-price)

The International Summer School and Festival for Pianists at Chetham’s School of Music, organised by Murray McLachlan, has been a high-value listener event since he began it, so it’s good to find some of the performances preserved on CD. This one is by Murray himself, recorded late last August shortly after the festival, and celebrates the Shostakovich centenary with vivid performances of the first and second sonatas, along with a varies set of pieces by other Russian giants of the 20th century, plus an odd little in-memoriam piece by Ronald Stevenson. The two Shostakovich sonatas are far apart in style. The Kabalevsky is a fascinating and in some ways quite Romantic work, and the Myaskovsky even more so. McLachlan rises to all of them in this programme, never sentimental but often deeply moving – and rounds them off with some hilarious clowning by Shchedrin.
Robert Beale

'Key recording' award for Stevenson recording in Penguin Guide to CDs 2006


STEVENSON,Ronald (born 1928)

Passacaglia on D.S.C.H.

*** Divine Art 25013. McLachlan

It was the appearance of John Ogdon’s remarkable LP set of the Passacaglia on DSCH in 1967 that alerted collectors to Ronald Stevenson’s music. He composed the Passacaglia between 1960 and 1962 and, like Sorabji’s Opus Clavicembalisticum or Busoni’s Fantasia contrappuntistica (Stevenson is a keen and persuasive advocate of that composer), it is some-thing of a tour de force. It is a mighty set of variations on the four-note motif D-S-C-H derived from Shostakovich’s monogram, lasting without a break for some 80 minutes. Later on in the score Stevenson introduces another four-note anagram, B-A-C-H, perhaps a reference to Busoni’s Fantasia contrapuntistica. When he presented Shostakovich with the score at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival, he said that the combination of Russian and German motifs symbolized his hope that the two nations, and mankind generally, would live in harmony. The twelfth section cleverly alludes to the microtonal scale of the Highland bagpipes and incorporates a seventeenth-century Pibroch Cumha ne Cloinne (‘Lament for the children’) and there is a formidable climatic triple fugue in which the Dies irae surfaces. In the 1960s Sir William Walton hailed the piece as ‘really tremendous – magnificent – I can’t remember having been so excited by a new work for a very long time’. Murray McLachlan is an impressive exponent of this score and he is very well recorded. (Some years ago he recorded the two piano concertos that Stevenson wrote about this time, so he is completely a tuned to this music).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

New review for Shostakovich and his comrades CD

The following review appeared in The Herald on October 21st.

Shostakovich and his Comrades: A Centenary CelebrationDmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-87)Sonata No. 3 in F major, Op.46 (1946) [13:55]Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950)’Song and Rhapsody’, Op.58 (1942) [11:32]Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-75)Piano Sonata No.1, Op.12 (1926) [12:36]Ronald STEVENSON (b. 1928)Recitative and Air (DSCH) (1975) [5:35]Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-75)Piano Sonata No.2 in B minor, Op.61 (1942) [27:06]Rodion SHCHEDRIN (b. 1932)Tschastuschki: concerto for piano solo, ‘Naughty Limericks’ (1963/99)Murray McLachlan (piano)rec. The Whiteley Hall, Manchester, 26 & 27 August 2006. DDDDUNELM DRD0264 [79:44]

Pianist Murray McLachlan’s new CD is a mind-blowing tour de force of repertoire and performance. Devised as a centenary celebration of the great Russian composer, McLachlan’s disc is certainly that: the performances of Shostakovich’s two sonatas address the major issue of their neglect. The first, a youthful work, is a monstrous piece of percussive pianism which, crudely, out-Prokofiev’s Prokofiev, while the second, from the war years, is a more measured, mature and “interior” piece, movingly played by McLachlan. The core value of the disc resides not just in Shostakovich but in the fact that McLachlan spreads the net wide, taking in Kabalevsky’s wonderful. Prokofiev-influenced Third Sonata, Myaskovsky’s deeply profound Song and Rhapsody, Shchedrin’s wickedly outrageous Naughty Limericks concerto for solo piano, and Ronald Stevenson’s image-laden memorial to Shostakovich, Recitative and Air. A very important issue, recorded, McLachlan told me last week, at Chetham’s Music School this summer in a series of single takes. Astonishing stuff, some of which McLachlan will be playing live in Glasgow’s Ramshorn on Tuesday 31.

Michael Tumelty, CD Reviews in The Guide, Arts; Books; Cinema; p4; The Herald , October 21, 2006.Ref. 0264 rev MT Glasgow Herald.doc