McLachlan is now something of a Chetham’s-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.
There’s no Prokofiev
here but Shostakovich bears the main weight of the recital.
McLachlan’s take on the youthful first is incendiary. He’s 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
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
Sonata betrays a certain Shostakovich influence but its contrasts
are confidently presented – its almost childlike melody unashamed
– 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.
It’s good to find Miaskovsky here and this is the pianist’s
second recording of the Song and Rhapsody, a wartime diptych
of nostalgic limpidity and eager hope. Ronald Stevenson’s 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.
Schedrin’s 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 élan by McLachlan.
The recording quality
is of a very acceptable level and the booklet notes, the pianist’s
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; I’d test the early Shostakovich sonata first
to see if you’re prepared to allow the pianist this level of