of Erik Chisholm’s piano music has now
reached volume three and its advocate
is the tireless Murray McLachlan. As
before one finds in Chisholm’s music
a progressive absorption of diverse
influences to forge a personal response:
Gaelic folk music and the influence
of Bartók prominent among them.
Piobaireachd is cast
in four movements of which the first,
The Salute for Clan Ranald, is by a
considerable way the longest. This Salute
is fully contrastive, ranging from searing
outbursts, to more static moments, the
whole managing to embrace the folkloric
and the contemporary-European with assurance.
The second movement also introduces
us to the influence of late Debussy
on Chisholm – the lapping of the waves
is not far away in The Duntroon Pibroch.
The final two movements are strongly
percussive, a characteristic of which
neither composer nor pianist is shy.
The clusters of the finale are especially
taxing and McLachlan rides them with
The Sonatinas are,
like the Piobaireachd, undated but likely
to be early. Contrapuntally eloquent
they attest to his formidable powers
of intelligence, organisation and control.
They’re, as the title suggest, very
brief but we have a glimpse of Chisholmian
austerity in the Lento of the First
Sonatina as well as a hearing of his
mastery of fugal procedure in the finale.
The Second Sonatina is patterned after
a Lute Fantasia of Luis de Milan but
the finale comprises seven variations
on Guardame las Vacas by Andriques
de Valderravano (fl.1640s). This is
grand and uplifting music.
The Two Piobaireachd
Laments are highly evocative examples
of Chisholm’s impressionist traits.
The first formed the basis of the second
movement of Chisholm’s First Piano Concerto,
a work that McLachlan has recorded.
Finally we have the big Cornish Dance
Sonata, the only work in this selection
to be dated with any certainty – 1926.
It’s late Romantic in ethos with echoes
of Rachmaninoff, though some of the
more modernist writing will have upset
Chisholm’s piano teacher Leff Pouishnoff
– indeed they did upset him – though
they seem well integrated in the fabric
of the score form this vantage point
at least. The second movement is dynamic,
colouristic with characteristic percussive
attacks. There’s a powerful auburn Lento
and then a vibrant, persistent, barbarous
finale – Bartók, probably, once
more the inspiration, though the fine
emergent tune owes all to personal inspiration.
McLachlan has already recorded the finale
– known as "With clogs on"
– on its own but here provides the whole
sonata with a driving buoyant platform.
It’s a long work, thirty-four minutes
in length, and sometimes lacks a sense
of concise direction as well as an over-reliance
on the percussive. But it’s excitingly
done in this performance and rounds
out Chisholm’s earlier inspirations
see also Volume
CHISHOLM Piano Music Third Sonatina
on Four Ricercars [8'04] Cameos [13'51]
Scottish Airs [11'25] Sonatine Ecossaise
[12'07] Night Song of the Bards [29'38]
Murray McLachlan Piano.Olympia OCD 639
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