Matthew McLachlan’s own goal at St Mary’s

Tuesday 8 June 4.00 pm 

Beethoven: Piano sonata in F sharp Op 78

Chopin: Fantasy in F minor Op 49

Scriabin: 24 preludes Op 11

A terrific recital ! Here is the link

What a family! Absolutely bowled over by the superb musicianship and subtle artistry of Matthew McLachlan having been ravished,seduced and astonished by his family in the past.
Matthew who is a guest in my house in Kew I often hear practicing but more often see jogging,boxing or training at the gym.I had no idea until hearing his public performance today of the heart that beats inside that seemingly simple exterior.A Beethoven played with a loving fluidity and sparkling cantabile that it is easy to imagine that the Countess Thérèse must have been his distant beloved.But such playful high jinks too in the Allegro vivace played with a true ‘joie de vivre.’
Chopin’s Fantasy played with a nobility and sensibility that is rare.Sound that is both full and at times heartbreakingly sensitive.But it was the Scriabin Preludes that showed off his Kaleidoscopic sense of colour with ravishing sounds that ranged from the fullest passionate outpourings to the almost inaudibly whispered.Reams of mellifluous notes that seemed like streams of gold and silver poured effortlessly from his fingers but with a strong personality that kept him on the high wire without ever fearing to fall .
The final passionate outpouring in D minor was enough as he closed the piano lid and made a charmingly modest thank you speech to Hugh Mather and Roger Nellist for all they do to give a platform to young artists like himself and his family.A deeply felt dedication to Donald Page -one of the best men he knew – just showed what sensitivity beats inside that ‘lad’ from Manchester.
So now they are five – the youngest by the way,the sixth,is a professional footballer but his father tells me when not saving goals even he plays a mean prelude and fugue.Bewitched ,bothered and bewildered.I am indeed amazed

  1. Adagio cantabile — Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Allegro vivace

The Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp, Op. 78, nicknamed “à Thérèse” because it was written for his pupil Countess Thérèse von Brunswick who,with her sister Josephine was his pupil.According to her diary Beethoven had stronger feelings than just for her intellect and sisterly tenderness .For sometime it has been thought that the famous letters from Beethoven to his ‘distant beloved’ were indeed to her.Composed in 1809 and consisting of two movements:According to Czerny,Beethoven himself singled out this sonata and the ‘Appassionata’as favourites together later with the ‘Hammerklavier’Wagner found it ‘profoundly personal’ but D’Indy said :’What sort of artist or man could admit that the only work dedicated to the Countess of Brunswick is the insipid Sonata in F sharp,the same recipient of the passionate letters that all the world has read’

There was a beautiful naturally flowing tempo from the very first notes..A great sense of contrasts as his fluidity of sound was allied to a scrupulous attention to Beethoven’s intentions.There was a real ‘joie de vivre’ in the Allegro vivace as he playfully swept up and down the keyboard with jeux perlé,dynamic contrasts and Beethoven’s own pedalling giving such a brilliant sparkle to the innocence of this bagatelle.

The Chopin F minor Fantasy had such beauty of sound with the opening legato and staccato and tempo di marcia united to carry us forward on a magical journey indeed.It was played with great nobility and passion and the beautiful Lento sostenuto was filled with subtle colour and flexibility.A very subtle addition of a bass d flat on the justly triumphant final return of the main theme just gave more depth to the sound .It was his aristocratic holding back of the bass notes in the passionate build ups that was so thrilling.The long held pedal in the final Adagio sostenuto like in Ravel’s Ondine created a magic out of which wove a wave of sounds that took us to the final imperious chords.

Scriabin’s 24 preludes were modelled on Chopin’s 24 Preludes op 28: They also covered all 24 major and minor keys and follow the same key sequence: C major, A minor, G major, E minor, D major, B minor and so on, alternating major keys with their relative minors, and following the ascending circle of fifths .They were composed in the course of eight years between 1888–96,being also one of Scriabin’s first published works in 1897,in Leipzig, together with his 12 Études, Op. 8 (1894–95).It is considered an outstanding set among Scriabin’s early works.Here are one or two personal thoughts as the preludes unwove.

  • No.1 in C major – Immediately entering into the special world of Scriabin with fluidity and passion.
  • No. 2 in A minor – Allegretto -Beautifully nostalgic and wistful,played with beguiling luminous sounds of purity and clarity
  • No. 3 in G major – Vivo -Flowing streams of notes like Chopin’s 8th prelude.
  • No.4 in E minor – Lento -Beautiful left hand melodic line played with very subtle rubato and nobility of sound.
  • No. 5 in D major – Andante cantabile- Languid melodic line played with subtle flexibility and shape with some magic bell like sounds at the end.
  • No. 6 in B minor – Allegro -Passionate Chopinesque octaves in an outpouring of romantic sounds played with a great sense of grandeur.
  • No. 7 in A major – Allegro assai-wistful melodic line on a stream of beautifully shaped fluid sounds.A wonderfully controlled passionate climax.
  • No. 8 in F♯ minor – Allegro agitato-A meandering melodic melody over a rumbling bass disappearing to a mere whisper.
  • No.9 in E major– Andantino-An almost improvised melodic line shaped so sensitively
  • N0.10 in C sharp minor– Andante-Great beauty of the tenor melody with a magical accompaniment and ravishingly deep bass note to end.
  • No. 11 in B major – Allegro assai -Such freedom allied to a sense of direction
  • No. 12 in G♯ minor – Andante -Luminous sounds of great delicacy.
  • No. 13 in G♭ major – Lento -beautiful melodic line with the left hand counterpoint just underlining the sentiment of the right.
  • No. 14 in E♭ minor – Presto-Agitated passionate outpouring in constant movement.
  • No. 15 in D♭ major – Lento – A beautiful left hand solo played with sensitivity until the right hand enters with such clarity and radiance
  • No. 16 in B♭ minor – Misterioso -as Matthew had said there is a similarity with Chopin’s Funeral March rhythm disguised in Scriabin’s clothes building to a sumptuous climax before melting to nothing.
  • No. 17 in A♭ major – Allegretto-Scriabin’s melodic invention seems quite endless.
  • No. 18 in F minor – Allegro agitato-A passionate outpouring to the final chord
  • No. 19 in E♭ major – Affettuoso- Beautiful mellifluous outpouring of sumptuous sounds
  • No. 20 in C minor – Appassionato-A melodic line in octaves with an ever more passionate outpouring of subtle colouring to it’s magical ending.
  • No. 21 in B♭ major – Andante-Capricious meanderings with such flexibility and beauty.
  • No. 22 in G minor – Lento -Deeply melancholic.
  • No. 23 in F major – Vivo- The same liquid flow as Chopin’s penultimate prelude with the ending just thrown off.
  • No. 24 in D minor – Presto-The final passionate outpouring of repeated chords played with fluidity and passion .It brought this multi coloured performance to a tumultuous end.The only thing to do after a performance like that is to shut the piano and pray that when it is reopened some of today’s magic might still be in the air !

Matthew McLachlan was born in 2000 and started piano lessons with his father in 2008. At 11 years of age he passed grade 8 and entered Wells Cathedral School as a specialist musician, studying with John Byrne. After two years in Somerset he entered Chetham’s in Manchester where he studied piano with Dina Parakhina and Cello with Gill Thoday. After gaining the ATCL and LTCL recital diplomas with distinction in 2014 and 2015, Matthew was awarded the FTCL in 2016. This followed on from winning third prize in the senior division of the first Scottish International Youth Prize Competition, held at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in July 2016. In 2014 Matthew’s performance of Ravel’s G Major Piano Concerto was commended in the Chetham’s Concerto competition and in the same year he was a prizewinner at the 2014 Mazovia Chopin Festival in Poland. As a result of his performance in Mazovia, he was selected to perform a 60-minute solo recital at the 2015 World Piano Teachers’ Conference (WPTC) in Novi Sad, Serbia. In 2016 Matthew gave many recitals and was a finalist in the Chetham’s Beethoven Piano Competition for the second year running. In March 2017 he was awarded first prize in the Chetham’s Senior Bach competition. In August 2017 he performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in the Paderewski Festival in Poland. In Autumn 2017 he had a tour of concert performances featuring Brahms’ Sonata no. 1 in C major. Before leaving Chetham’s, Matthew won the school’s Bosendorfer competition, playing Stravinsky’s ‘Three movements from Petrushka’. In 2018 he performed Mozart’s 13th concerto in Trieste, Haddington and Rhyl as well as Tchaikovsky’s first and Beethoven’s fourth concerto in Buxton with the orchestra of the High Peak. In the winter of 2018, the Knights of The Round Table awarded Matthew with a full scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London, where he now studies. Although 2020 saw many concerts cancelled, Matthew gave online performances and has recently been taken under the wing of Talent Unlimited, thanks to Canan Maxton.

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