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Shostakovich and his Comrades Ė A Centenary Celebration
Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Sonata No.3 in F major Op.46 (1945)† [13:55]
Nikolai MIASKOVSKY (1881-1950)
Song and Rhapsody Op.58 (1942) [11:32]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH† (1906-1975)
Piano Sonata No.1 Op.12 (1926) [12:36]
Piano Sonata No.2 in B minor Op.61 (1942) [27:05]
Ronald STEVENSON (b.1928)
Recitative and Air (DSCH) (1975) [5:35]
Rodion SCHEDRIN (b.1932)
Tschastuschki Ė concerto for piano solo Naughty Limericks (1963 revised for solo piano 1999) [9:00]
Murray McLachlan (piano)
Rec. at the Sixth Chethamís International Summer School and Festival for Pianists, Whitely Hall, Chethamís School of Music, Manchester, August 2006††
DUNELM RECORDS DRD0264 [79:44]
 



McLachlan is now something of a Chethamís-Dunelm regular and this is a programme he has recently promoted, not least in a Wigmore Hall recital. His affinity for Russian music is something that has marked him out for some years now and his recordings have bolstered the catalogues, with Miaskovsky and Prokofiev very much to the fore.

Thereís no Prokofiev here but Shostakovich bears the main weight of the recital. McLachlanís take on the youthful first is incendiary. Heís viscerally and powerfully assertive and aggressive, making few concessions to more pliant approaches. A rival such as Konstantin Scherbakov on Naxos (8.555781) sounds almost pertly neo-classical in comparison, as well as two and a half minutes slower. The tension barely lets up in this performance with McLachlan having no patience for the kind of conciliatory approach favoured by such as Scherbakov. Finding a great deal of hectoring Prokofiev-like dynamism in the score McLachlan drives to climaxes with sometimes brutal assurance.

In the much later Second Sonata he uses the Anglo-Soviet Music Press edition not the Sikorski (Hamburg) so one will note differences between the two. He finds nobility and mobility in the second subject of the opening movement and an eloquent degree of angularity in the central Largo. The longest movement though is the finale, a profound span in which McLachlan manages to spin the variations with considerable control and eloquence. Variation seven is especially moving, animated as it is by a nagging, doubtful left hand.

Kabalevskyís Third Sonata betrays a certain Shostakovich influence but its contrasts are confidently presented Ė its almost childlike melody unashamed Ė as well as its more riven paragraphs. The lyric slow movement surrounds a more bellicose central section whilst McLachlan digs energetically into the scamp-like whirlwind of the finale. Itís good to find Miaskovsky here and this is the pianistís second recording of the Song and Rhapsody, a wartime diptych of nostalgic limpidity and eager hope. Ronald Stevensonís brief Shostakovich tribute was written in 1975, commissioned in anticipation of his seventieth birthday but ultimately written in memoriam. Opening with a Recitativo it compactly coalesces an Aria and Adagio of a rather remote kind.

Finally thereís Schedrinís riotous and unpronounceable Tschastuschki, originally written for piano and orchestra but here heard in the much later revision for solo piano. This is a wicked piece of work, Lisztian in its difficulties, Prokofievian too; an incessant, toccata-like, syncopated, variational riot. The chants, especially the clearly more vulgar ones, are driven home with unabashed virtuosity and ťlan by McLachlan.

The recording quality is of a very acceptable level and the booklet notes, the pianistís own, are more than helpful. My advance copy had a programme note addendum slip regarding the edition of the second sonata played but this will be inserted into the text in future printings. Otherwise this is a calling card of McLachlan considerable affinities in this repertoire; Iíd test the early Shostakovich sonata first to see if youíre prepared to allow the pianist this level of incineration.

Jonathan Woolf 

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