Callum McLachlan at St Mary’s

Callum McLachlan at St Mary`s
Like father like son as they say and it could not be more true than in the case of Callum McLachlan who gave a recital in the the very successful Tuesday Afternoon Series of exceptional pianists at St Mary’s Perivale.
Callum is only one of the many musical offspring of Murray McLachlan and now at 18 is following in his father footsteps.
Like his father before him he is studying at Chetham’s School of Music having initiated with lessons from his father is now a student of the renowned Russian pedagogue and pianist Dina Parakhina.
Murray McLachlan ,father,studied at Chethams before going on to study at the Royal Northern College with Ryszard Bakst and Norma Fisher also studying with Ronald Stevenson and Peter Katin.
Having made his debut at only 21 under the baton of Sir Alexander Gibson he is now head of Keyboard at Chethams and is Founder and Artistic Director of the renowned International piano school and Festival for pianists ,Europe’s largest summer school devoted only to the piano.
Also chairman of EPTA UK a post held for many years by Sidney Harrison ( the teacher of both Norma Fisher and I)at its creation by that indomitable force that was Carola Grindea.
The McLachlan family is a force to be reckoned with indeed.
The father away giving masterclasses in China was unable to attend his sons recital today but at 18 Callum is quite independent with already a force very much of his own.
This was obvious from the serious programme that was offered – as our Master of Ceremonies declared ” no 20th century music today so plenty of tunes!”
Mozart Sonata in B flat K.570,Beethoven Sonata op 7 ,Liszt Funerailles and Chopin Scherzo n.4 Op.54
Mozart showed immediately a great sense of style and a very delicate palate .
Never forcing the tone but allowing the music to unfold so naturally .
The opening Allegro I felt was a little to fast to allow the semiquaver passages to sing and breathe without sounding slightly in a rush.
This was obviously nervous tension which was soon dispelled and lead to an Adagio played with a beautiful sense of balance that allowed one of Mozart’s most beautiful creations to sing in a very touching way.
Always allowing the music to flow and speak for itself made the magical middle section even more poignant.
Now fully in control it allowed him to give a final movement full of wit and charm with a delicate and unobtrusive control of the instrument .

                                 Callum presenting the programme
Beethoven’s much neglected Sonata op 7 showed a very inquisitive musical mind.
This Sonata given only its rightful place by few.
Michelangeli and Glenn Gould in particular who had discovered this treasure trove amongst the early Sonatas of Beethoven.
A slow movement of such intensity only to be found again in op 10 n.3.
Here Callum found all the dramatic contrasts.
The sforzandi were particularly telling in the first movement giving a forward impetus to the persistent 6/8 rhythm before the melodic almost Brahmsian second subject leading to some very difficult technical hurdles surmounted with ease and great musicality. Exactly the right depth of sound in the Largo con gran espressione it’s recurring sigh so poignant and like a string quartet every note so important from the bass up which gives such strength to the disarmingly simple motif.
A scherzo of great elan contrasting so well with the Trio minore lead to the pastoral simplicity of the Rondo.
The question and answer between the hands beautifully realised as was the sudden eruption in the middle section played with great rhythmic impetus demanding not a little technical skill.
The same motif that dissolves into nothing just as this extraordinary movement had begun.
A very fine performance with a great sense of the overall architecture never allowing the tension to flag.
A young man’s view of early Beethoven that in time will grow in stature and depth but hopefully will not loose the innocence and sense of discovery that we were treated to today.
Funerailles by Liszt was given a very vivid performance showing great technical command and authority.
The famous left hand octaves thrown off with an ease and the great final climax held back in a very impressive way.
The great left hand gongs at the beginning could have been a little more persistent but the overall sense of colour and the enormous range of sounds was quite mesmerising The beauty of the middle section was the perfect contrast to the enormous sonorities of the great funeral march.
The finest performance was kept to the last.
Chopin’s elusive fourth Scherzo played with an extraordinary command of the keyboard and a delicacy in the cantabile middle section that could have been from the hands of a Cherkassky or Bolet.
Such subtlety and refined sense of colour .
The multifaceted fastfire changes in the Scherzo thrown of with an ease and sense of style that might make his father want to rush to the keyboard to try and keep up with his young son’s pianistic and musical prowess.

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