The amazing McLachlan clan Callum McLachlan at St Mary’s
An amazing family indeed.
Mother and father travelling the musical world.
The last time I saw mother Katherine was on the jury of an International Competition in Rome.
Murray McLachlan, is very hard to pin point his presence such is his schedule as a distinguished pianist,teacher and organiser.
In their spare time they are the founders and organisers of the International Summer School at Chethams in Manchester.
The last time I saw Murray was in Manchester Cathedral to hear one of his many distinguished students, Iyad Sughayer, playing with members of the Camerata for the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
What some people may have missed is that they also have five children all of whom are beginning to emerge onto the musical scene.
The one that has not chosen a musical path Alec , is at only 15 a junior professional goal keeper.
However his father tells me he plays a mean lute prelude in C minor by Bach on the piano before going out on to the field!
Little Rose has played this season the Clara Wieck Piano Concerto and Mathew has won a full time scholarship to the Royal College in London to continue his studies with Dina Parakhina.
I asked Katherine if she was aware that Bach had 17 children!
With a contented smile that lit up her face she said she was happy with her brood of five!
It was Callum who had been invited back today to play in Hugh Mathers remarkable series in Perivale.
At 19 after early studies with his father he spent 7 years with Dina Parakhina and is now perfecting his studies in Salzburg.
And as one might imagine from such a family this was no ordinary programme with a first half dedicated to rarely performed works by Grainger and Rachmaninov.
Ending with the Brahms Variations and Fugue on a theme by Handel op 24.
An encore by great request brought forth his finest playing with a magical account of “Abschied” from Waldszenen by Schumann.
Callum is a born Schumann player with his very flexible rubato and magical sense of colour – it was indeed a farewell that was deeply cherished by all.
Callum has been including in his programmes this season in Padua,New York and Manchester fascinating all too rarely played works by Stevenson and Grainger.
His father was a prodigy of that eclectic pianist composer from his homeland,Ronald Stevenson.
Today we were teated to three works by Grainger :The Rosenkavlier Ramble that opened the concert immediately showed the natural way that Callum approached the keyboard.
With such fluid arm movements almost conducting the magical sounds that he was producing.
Cascades of silver sounds embrassed the insinuating and tingling harmonies from the final ecstatic love duet from Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.
A work Callum told us in his very interesting introduction,that was dedicated to Grainger’s mother who had just committed suicide.
To a Nordic Princess Bridal Lullaby,dedicated to Grainger’s wife, was played with a crystaline beauty in a soothing and magical ending to this group of pieces.
It led so naturally to the typical romantic harmonies of a song by Rachmaninov “How fair this spot” op 21 n.7 in the arrangement by Gryazanov.A beautiful sense of legato and balance.
The spell was broken with a rumbustuous performance of Grainger’s well worn Country Garden.
Like Grainger’s own performance it was a barnstorming ramble showing a quite extraordinary technical prowess.
The main work was the Variations and Fugue on a theme by Handel op 24.
The 25 variations culminating in a mighty fugue on the innocent little theme by Handel.
The theme was played unusually delicately with some very clearly played embellishments .
It led immediately into the variations full of fantasy and colour.
Rather too romantically played though as this work of Brahms (unlike the works of Schumann that he played so magically as a encore) is built on a rock and it is this steady build up and unrelenting forward movement that takes us to the final triumphant outburst before the monumental fugue.
There were some very beautiful things in Callum Mclachlan’s remarkably assured performance but some of the rubato and slight variations of tempo distracted from the overall vision of this orchestral like work.Some magical sounds and a true technical command led to the gradual lead up to the final triumphant statement and from here onwards he played with just the relentless forward movement that had been missing in the previous variations.
We were too distracted by the vision of beautiful trees but it was the wood that counted above all for Brahms.
The fugue was played with great conviction and if even here there was too much fussy detail it is because of his true love for the work that I am sure this will be gradually pared off as he lives and matures with this masterpiece during what is destined to be a long and distinguished career like his parents!
In fact Hugh Mather has already offered a return fight………..