This is the seventh and last volume in Murray McLachlan’s Chisholm piano series. It began on Dunelm and migrated to Divine Art. The music is – broadly described – within a triangle described by Bartók, Grainger and Szymanowski. All three were guest performers and featured composers in Chisholm’s notable 1930s Glasgow concert series.
The four Elegies are by turns gentle and subtle, clangourous and often coloured by the twists and turns of Scottish folk voices. Of tartan clichés and petty-coat shortcake there is thankfully none. Chisholm reaches far back to prehistory and but also is open to skirling Baxian declamation (as in the final Elegy) and melodic lilt. You can hear this especially in the third of the sequence of five – there are two versions of the second elegy.
The ten minute Peter Pan suite offers pictures of the fluttering Peter, the gentle Wendy, the gloomy minatory Crocodile, the liquid Ravelian high-chiming Tinkerbell and finally the stirring Captain Hook who swashbuckles heroically rather than playing the scoundrel. The little Paraeterita Sonatina no. 4 accompanies a dignified minuet with skirls – it has a Caledonian Purcellian mien.
The Suite No. 1 is roguish, conventionally dance-inflected, caught between a Godowsky pictorial dance suite and Bartókian grotesques. The Second Suite also straddles the concert hall-salon chasm. It builds in a Chop-Sticks style themes and eight little variations into the midst of four other pieces. The Jig finale skips along with gleam in its eye but like its companions it is a more subtle and nuanced creature that its counterparts in the First Suite. The Third Suite is subtitled Ballet – full of quirks and eccentricity. It gleams with ricochets and shafts of light amid a blitz of character pieces.
With what is presumed to be the complete piano solo production now in place how long must we wait for the Hindustani concerto – the second piano concerto? Not long it seems. The two piano concertos: No. 1 Piobaireachd and No.2 Hindustani were recorded in Glasgow City Halls on 8-9 June 2011 by Danny Driver and the BBCSSO conducted by Rory Macdonald. This will be released by Hyperion in 2012.
The notes – which are by no means perfunctory – are by Chisholm authority and biographer John Purser (“Eric Chisholm – Scottish Modernist 1904-1965”, Boydell & Brewer, 2009).
Rangy and gangly music quaffing deep from the authentic Caledonian aquifer.