Saddest of occasions with Murray McLachlan’s wonderful programme we could only imagine,like Beethoven, in our private ear.Family,friends and colleagues all congregating at the Chopin Society yesterday afternoon to celebrate this extraordinarily generous musician .
On the menu Haydn 52,Mozart D K 576 and Beethoven op 111 Sonatas washed down with Chopin’s Four ballades.An encore of Chopin’s E flat nocturne transposed into D flat and imposed on the left hand alone ……..D flat was the scale that Chopin would give his pupils for the natural position of the hand on the keys.Only an eclectic musician like Murray could be so discerning on this occasion.
All postponed until January because an elderly member of the Chopin Society had passed away minutes before being able to savour such delights which he is now doing with the angels.
The hall was closed while necessary arrangements were made by the authorities who had arrived immediately in great numbers but alas there was nothing they could do.
We mortals could only console ourselves with a stiff drink and delectable Italian food for Murray’s emaciated former star students .
Bobby Chen a great friend and colleague also present and who by coincidence is giving a recital next week with Albert Portugheis entitled Four Hands One Heart !
Very moved to see Lady Rose personally greeting her guests with this very unexpected news ……and very sorry to hear the distress of her young assistant in whose arms the 95 year old member of their society had passed away.
‘In the beginning is our end ‘ ……..says T.S.Eliot …..It is,though,what happens on the journey in between that defines who we are.
This week too in Rome we celebrated Fausto Zadra who passed away in my theatre when the emotion of Chopin’s D flat nocturne was too much for his soul.The Angels enticed by such celestial sounds invited him to join them.
Four years later my wife was also struck down as she intoned the terrible words of Hecuba ….’An eye for an eye.A tooth for a tooth when will it ever end!……….’ She believed it so fervently and was called with a celestial fanfare of trumpets to take her place in a better world.
‘Murray McLachlan is a pianist with a virtuoso technique and a sure sense of line. His timing and phrasing are impeccable, and his tone-full but unforced in the powerful passages, gentle and restrained in the more lyrical- is a perpetual delight’ (BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE)Since making his professional debut in 1986 at the age of 21 under the baton of Sir Alexander Gibson, Murray McLachlan has consistently received outstanding critical acclaim. Educated at Chetham’s School of Music and Cambridge University, his mentors included Ronald Stevenson, David Hartigan, Ryszard Bakst, Peter Katin and Norma Fisher. His recording career began in 1988 and immediately attracted international attention. Recordings of contemporary music have won numerous accolades, including full star ratings, as well as ‘rosette’ and ‘key recording’ status in the Penguin Guide to CDs, and ‘Disc of the month’ and ‘Record of the month ‘in ‘Music on the Web’ and ‘The Herald’. McLachlan’s discography now includes over forty commercial recordings, including the complete sonatas of Myaskovsky and Prokofiev, the six concertos of Alexander Tcherepnin, the 24 Preludes and Fugues of Rodion Shchedrin, Ronald Stevenson’s ‘Passacaglia on DSCH’ the major works of Kabalevsky, Khatchaturian and the complete solo piano music of Erik Chisholm. His most recent releases feature British Music: In 2020 he recorded for Naxos the complete piano music of Edward Gregson and in 2019 for SOMM he the Ruth Gipps Piano Concerto with the RLPO. Both issues have received international critical acclaim and been broadcast several times on BBC Radio Three. McLachlan’s repertoire includes over 40 concertos and 25 recital programmes. He has performed the complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle seven times, as well as the complete piano music of Brahms. He has given first performances of works by many composers, including Martin Butler, Ronald Stevenson, Charles Camilleri, Michael Parkin and even Beethoven! He has appeared as soloist with most of the leading UK orchestras. His recognition has been far-reaching, bringing invitations to perform on all five continents. At the same time, he continues to give numerous concerts and master classes in the UK.McLachlan teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music and at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester where he has been Head of Keyboard since 1997. He is the founder of the Manchester International Concerto competition for young pianists as well as the Founder/Artistic Director of the world famous Chetham’s International Summer school and festival for Pianists, Europe’s largest summer school devoted exclusively to the piano. As a teacher McLachlan continues to be very busy and in demand. Many of his students have won prizes in competitions and continued with their own successful careers as performers.Murray McLachlan is past editor of the two EPTA (European Piano Teachers’ Association) magazines ‘Piano Journal’ and ‘Piano Professional’. Having been chair of EPTA since 2007, in 2021 he was made Vice President. In 2013 the University of Dundee awarded him an honorary doctorate for outstanding services to music. As well as performing and teaching, he is well known internationally for his numerous articles on Piano technique and repertoire. This includes extended columns which have appeared in ‘International Piano’ ‘Pianist’ and ‘Piano’ Magazines. His three books on piano playing ‘Foundations of technique’, ‘Piano Technique in Practice’ and ‘The Psychology of Piano Technique’ have been widely distributed and are published by Faber Music.
Murray McLachlan combines a multifaceted career as pianist, recording artist, writer, lecturer, and music educator. With a repertoire of 25 recital programmes and 40 concertos he has performed to critical acclaim on all five continents and has a discography of over 40 releases. He has written three critically acclaimed books on piano technique (Faber Music) and his quarterly column for International Piano Magazine has been running for over twenty years.
He is Founder/Artistic Director of the world famous Chetham’s International Summer school and festival for Pianists, Europe’s largest summer school devoted exclusively to the piano.
- Haydn – Sonata in E flat Hob. XVI/52, L. 62
- Mozart – Sonata in D major K576
- Beethoven – Sonata in C minor op. 111
- Chopin – 4 Ballades:
- No. 1 in G minor Op. 23
- No. 2 in F major/A minor Op. 38
- No. 3 in A flat Op. 47
- No. 4 in F minor Op. 52
Beethoven conceived of the plan for his final three piano sonatas Op 109,110 and 111b during the summer of 1820, while he worked on his Missa solemnis . Although the work was only seriously outlined by 1819, the famous first theme of the allegro ed appassionato was found in a draft book dating from 1801 to 1802, contemporary to his second Symphony Moreover, the study of these draft books implies that Beethoven initially had plans for a sonata in three movements, quite different from that which we know: it is only thereafter that the initial theme of the first movement became that of the String Quartet n.13 and that what should have been used as the theme with the adagio—a slow melody in A flat – was abandoned. Only the motif planned for the third movement, the famous theme mentioned above, was preserved to become that of the first movement.The Arietta, too, offers a considerable amount of research on its themes; the drafts found for this movement seem to indicate that as the second movement took form, Beethoven gave up the idea of a third movement, the sonata finally appearing to him as ideal.It has ben described as ‘a work of unmatched drama and transcendence … the triumph of order over chaos, of optimism over anguish .Alfred Brendel spoke of the second movement ‘what is to be expressed here is distilled experience and perhaps nowhere else in piano literature does mystical experience feel so immediately close at hand’.
Chopin Four Ballades were composed between 1831 and 1842. The term ballade was used by Chopin in the sense of a balletic interlude or dance-piece, equivalent to the old Italian ballata, but the term may also have connotations of the medieval heroic ballad, a narrative minstrel-song, often of a fantastical character. There are dramatic and dance-like elements in Chopin’s use of the genre, and he may be said to be a pioneer of the ballade as an abstract musical form. The four ballades are said to have been inspired by a friend of Chopin’s, poet Adam Mickiewicz .The exact inspiration for each individual ballade, however, is unclear and disputed.John Ogdon said of the fourth Ballade that it is ‘the most exalted, intense and sublimely powerful of all Chopin’s compositions… It is unbelievable that it lasts only twelve minutes, for it contains the experience of a lifetime.’ Alfred Cortot claims that the inspiration for this ballade is Mickiewicz’s poem The Three Budrys, which tells of three brothers sent away by their father to seek treasures, and the story of their return with three Polish brides.It is commonly considered one of Chopin’s masterpieces, and one of the masterpieces of 19th-century piano music.
The Piano Sonata in E-flat major, Hob.XVI/52, L. 62, was written in 1794 and is the last of Haydn’s piano sonatas, and is widely considered his greatest.
Haydn wrote the work for Therese Jansen, an outstanding pianist who lived in London at the time of Haydn’s visits there in the 1790s. Haydn served as a witness at her wedding to Gaetano Bartolozzi on 16 May 1795.Haydn also dedicated three demanding piano trios Hob.XV:27–29 nand another two piano sonatas H. XVI:50 and 51 to Jansen.
With regard to the sonata, Jansen was evidently the dedicatee of the autograph (hand-written) score but not the first published version. On the title page of the autograph Haydn wrote in Italian, “Sonata composta per la Celebre Signora Teresa de Janson … di me giuseppe Haydn mpriLond. 794,” which means “Sonata composed for the celebrated Miss Theresa Jansen … by myself Joseph Haydn in my own hand, London 1794.”
The Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major K 576, was composed as part of a set of six for Princess Frederica Louise of Prussia in 1789. It is often nicknamed “The Hunt” or “The Trumpet Sonata”, for the hornlike opening.