It felt like a great opportunity on Friday evening to venture into Manchester to listen and to support the young and formidable pianist Matthew McLachlan perform a programme of Chopin, Prokofiev, and Scriabin at Forsyth Piano Showroom.
After a full schedule of teaching, my best efforts at arriving for the start of the concert were somewhat thwarted, though it was a pleasure to have been fully engaged for the last work on the programme: Alexander Scriabin’s 24 Preludes, Op. 11.
One of the most striking elements of the performance was the natural sense of rubato which emanated beautifully from Matthew’s masterful control and intelligent working of the textures. The chords were executed with effortless balance, and the development and interplay between the textures was a pleasure to observe throughout the performance.
The phasing was wonderfully mature, understated, and demur – and never overworked or exaggerated. Melodies emerged with unbridled expression as through bar lines never existed, and the melodic shape, interplay, and expression emanated sureness and confidence. The tonal decay through the diminuendo passages showed great control over and adaptability at the instrument. The soft, searching tones were always beautiful, inquisitive, and yet purposeful – and the tasteful use of una corda brought exquisite colour to the softest sounds.
The rhapsodic playing was particularly well received by the audience. It was moving, robust, and turbulent to listen to, with the range of colour of the Forsyth’s Schimmel utilised to full effect. The surprise of the subito piano sections felt completely unadorned and were exquisitely executed alongside the full, preceding sections. The mercurial characters seemed to melt and mix with flexibility and mature understanding of the work throughout.
Matthew’s supple and elastic finger-work created effortless fun in the required passages, and changes from melodic leaps to rapid dotted notes were executed with ease. The relentless passagework seemed indefatigable and awe-inspiring in its purpose and fluency. The soft and climatic points were well-designed for maximum effect.
Grand, broadening, and rich phrases enveloped the room, and tonal decay and space were equally created with poignant beauty. More and more tone was found were it didn’t seem as though more tone could exist. Soft sounds seemed to emerge naturally and with ease from the instrument, and the enveloping sounds were warm, rich, and reassuring.
Overall, there was a stunning affinity with Scriabin displayed by the young McLachlan, with clear, mature, and intellectual artistry at work. Matthew’s relaxed demeanour captured the nature of the Scriabin beautifully this evening at Forsyth, Manchester.
You can listen here: