Rose McLachlan and the amazing clan at St Mary’s

Tuesday 23 March 4.00 pm 

Shostakovich: Prelude and Fugue no 15 in D flat Major

Rachmaninov: Etudes-tableaux Op 33 no 4 in D minor and Op 39 no 1 in C minor

Chopin: Sonata in B minor Op 58 Allegro maestoso-Scherzo,molto vivace-Largo-Finale Presto non tanto

Some beautiful musicianly playing from Rose McLachlan standing in at short notice for her COVID stricken brother Mathew who will now play on the 8th June.
A very rhythmic 15th Prelude and a very busy Fugue by Shostakovich was followed by two beautifully played Etudes Tableaux by Rachmaninov.

The prelude n.15 is a brusque waltz typical of Shostakovich. The opening theme resembles ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’.The date of the composition (20 December) may explain this. The vivace fugue is a tour de force of chromatic and atonal writing. The subject contains 11 of the 12 semitones available, with the twelfth only introduced at the very end of the fugue. Ronald Stevenson,mentor of father Murray McLachlan,has suggested this to be a sardonic commentary on serial music, as by the end of the piece tonic/dominant harmony is finally established, though not very convincingly.

The Études-Tableaux (“study pictures”),are two sets of piano études composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff .They were intended to be “picture pieces”, essentially “musical evocations of external visual stimuli”. But Rachmaninoff did not disclose what inspired each one, stating: “I do not believe in the artist that discloses too much of his images. Let the listener paint for themselves what it most suggests.”Op 33 n.4 in D minor is a simple march that grows into a thing of striking contrapuntal complexity.Op 39 n.1 is a quick-paced étude that demands a tireless right hand, a syncopated left hand and considerable dexterity.

It was in the Chopin B minor Sonata though that we could really appreciate to the full her intelligence and sensibility allied to a technical command that allowed her to give great nobility and shape to a work that so often can seem a series of episodes.An architectural line from the Maestoso opening to the Presto non tanto finale taking in a scintillating Scherzo and a Largo always with the same pulse that allowed great sentiment and beauty but without any trace of sentimentality.

What an extraordinary family the McLachlan clan are with Rose the youngest of the pianists at 18 ready at short notice to give a superb recital for her brother Mathew who is on a full scholarship at the RCM .Their elder brother Callum is studying in Salzburg and has already played several times at St Mary’s.Their younger brother Alex is a professional goal keeper but his father assures me that he plays a ‘mean’ Bach as well!

Rose McLachlan comes from a family of musicians and was born in Cheshire in 2002. She began piano lessons with her father and entered Chetham’s School of Music in 2010, initially as a chorister at Manchester Cathedral. She now studies piano with Helen Krizos. After gaining a high distinction for grade 8 at 11, Rose was awarded the LTCL performers diploma with distinction in 2017.Rose has already had considerable successes in national and international competitions: After being awarded the Sir David Wilcock’s Organ Scholarship in 2014/15 she was the overall winner of the 2016 Scottish International Youth Prize at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. As a result of winning the Yamaha Prize in the 2017 EPTA UK competition, Rose performed at St Martins in the Fields. As an overall winner of the Chetham’s concerto competition in February 2018, Rose was selected to perform the Ravel G major concerto with the Chetham’s symphony orchestra during the 2018-19 season. In 2018 Rose also won the Chopin and Beethoven prizes at Chetham’s and in 2019 she was overall winner of the junior intercollegiate Beethoven Piano Society of Europe competition. Also, in 2019 Rose was the overall winner of the 11th “Dora Pejacevich“ competition organised by EPTA Croatia. She has performed Beethoven’s 2 nd piano concerto five times as well as solo recitals in Lanzarote, St James Piccadilly, Portsmouth, Wilmslow, and various lunchtime concerts at Chethams. With her family, Rose has given recital tours in Scotland. In March 2019, Rose performed the Clara Schumann concerto with the New Tyneside Orchestra in Newcastle conducted by Monica Buckland . 2018 saw her first commercial recording being issued by Divine Art, performing ‘Five Hebridean Dances’ by John McLeod. In October 2019 she performed Shostakovich’s Second Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth in the Malcolm Arnold Festival which was broadcast on BBC Radio Three. As a result of this concert she was immediately invited to perform live at the Royal Festival Hall as a solo pianist on Radio 3 in a concert scheduled for 6 May 2020. In January 2020, Rose recorded piano duets by the distinguished British composer, Edward Gregson, with her father for a new commercial recording on the Naxos label. Rose is now at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, continuing her studies with Helen Krizos. She is extremely grateful to receive financial support from the Dobie Charitable Trust, Muriel Berry Scholarship and the Waverley Fund .

After the Second World War,Dmitri Shostakovich was Russia’s most prominent composer. Although out of favour with the Sovuet Communist Party he was still sent abroad as a cultural ambassador. One such trip was to Leipzig in 1950 for a music festival marking the bicentennial of J.S. Bach’s death. As part of the festival, Shostakovich was asked to sit on the judging panel for the first International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition.One of the entrants in the competition was the 26-year-old Tatiana Nikolayeva from Moscow. Though not required by competition regulations, she had come prepared to play any of the 48 preludes and fugues of on request. She won the gold medal.Inspired by the competition and impressed by Nikolayeva’s playing, Shostakovich returned to Moscow and started composing his own cycle of 24 preludes and fugues. Shostakovich worked fairly quickly, taking only three days on average to write each piece. As each was completed, he would ask Nikolayeva to come and visit him in his Moscow apartment where he would play her the latest piece. The complete work was written between 10 October 1950 and 25 February 1951. Once finished, Shostakovich dedicated the work to Nikolayeva, who undertook the public premiere in Leningrad on 23 December 1952. Shostakovich wrote out all the pieces without many corrections except the B♭ minor prelude, with which he was dissatisfied and replaced what he had begun initially.

Ileana Ghione with Tatyana Nikolaeva at Teatro Ghione Rome
Happy times in Rome with Nikolaeva -far right .My wife and I far left with friends at home.

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