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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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Dunelm Records

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
McLachlan plays the 32 Beethoven Sonatas: Vol. 2
Sonata No. 19 in g minor Op. 49 No. 1 (1796) [7:48]
Sonata No. 20 in G Op. 49 No 2 (1796) [9:03]
Sonata No. 21 in C Op. 53 Waldstein (1803) [24:57]
Sonata No. 22 in F Op. 54 (1804) [12:16]
Sonata No. 23 in f minor Op. 57 Appassionata (1806) [24:01]
Murray McClachlan (piano)
rec. summer 2003, Whitely Hall, Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester
DUNELM DRD0202 [78:05]


Receipt of this disc - and one other - from Dunelm initially gave me cause for a bit of head-scratching. Not having had experience with Dunelm records — which has a standing relationship with Chetham’s School of Music — I wasn’t aware of its “cottage industry” status until I read a review by Neil Horner. Dunelm is run by Jim and Joyce Pattison in Derbyshire; the CDs are burned by them, and the artwork and layout? Yes, by them as well. The booklets are printed out by computer and, evidently, hand-assembled. Such dedication! The booklet here contains an introduction written by the performer, in addition to the extensive liner-notes that any classical music-lover hopes for in any CD release. I’ve exchanged correspondence with Mr. Pattison and he was quite generous with his details on the production of their releases. In addition, the proceeds from the sale of this CD go to Chetham’s, where these pieces were recorded. I was sold - what is there that isn’t to like?

McLachlan, who recorded extensively for the now sadly-defunct Olympia label, performs these Beethoven sonatas with quiet control and sensitivity. The two “easy” sonatas are not given a simple run-through; the voicing in the first movement of Op. 49 No. 1 is quite beautiful, and phrasing is done with sensitivity and clear vision. The piano is recorded with a good sense of atmospheric space, not too closely miked. Overall the performances are quite good, The Op. 21 has the least lustre of those included on this disc. The deep bass notes of the first movement could have more definition, and the right hand tends to get lost a bit whenever the first theme comes along. Certain notes of the piano used in the recording can sound strident in forte passages, especially B-flat 2 and E-flat 2—a tuning issue? The Waldstein’s following Introduzione, however, is a lovely meditative moment that is well played.

Following is the oft-overlooked Op. 54, at half the playing time of the two renowned sonatas that came before and after. This sonata has generally been the hardest one for me to enjoy. McLachlan makes a fairly good case for it, not as much with the first movement as the second, where he gives the music room for playfulness.

The Op. 57 starts out rather straightforwardly, without pathos or over-dramatization. This shows itself from the outset to be a clean performance, and McLachlan holds true to that throughout. It has little of the lack of definition found in the Waldstein sonata earlier. However, in the fortissimo sections, the stridency in the upper register returns. The Andante con moto again is done cleanly with no sentiment or sloppiness. Good, solid Beethoven comes out in these spacious chords as the variations add filigree to the main theme. The final movement is performed with great control and definition.

The performances of these works are solid, sensitive, and assured as any of the performances I’ve heard so far on Dunelm, which are very well done — this fits the standard they have set with the rest of their catalogue.

David Blomenberg

see also review by Glyn Pursglove

AVAILABILITY 

Dunelm Records

 

 



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