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Erik Chisholm: Elegies – Peter Pan Suite – E Praeterita: Sonatina no.4 – Suites no.1, no.2 & no.3
Murray McLachlan (piano)
Recorded in the Whiteley Hall, Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester (May 30 [Elegies, Sonatina no.4] December 18 [Suites no.1 and & no.3], 19 [Peter Pan Suite] & 20 [Suite no.2], 2006) – 68’45
Diversions ddv24155 – Booklet in English

I was not familiar with the music of Erik Chisholm (1904-1965) before this CD came into my hands but listening inspired me to learn more about the man. He was a consummate musician as well as a composer, conductor, lecturer and very active proponent of contemporary music as well as being responsible for bringing revivals of seldom performed operas back to Scotland and the UK. Above all, Chisholm identified as a Scot and he incorporated the music of the Highlands into his compositions. It is certainly not necessary for one to have heard the previous six discs in order to appreciate this one.

The feature piece of this CD is the Peter Pan Suite composed in 1924 when Chisholm was only twenty years of age. The suite features themes for Peter Pan, Wendy, the Crocodile, Tinker Bell and Captain Hook and the use of intervals, arpeggios, harmony and musical metaphor to convey the interpretation of the magical fairy tale is accomplished without resorting to “Disneyesque-type sweetness”.

Pianist Murray McLachlan is a superb interpreter of this complex music. He masters the necessary quick grace notes evocative of the Highland pipes and his splendid technique allows even the most difficult passages to flow easily while permitting the embedded idioms of the folk tunes to sound as one with the entirety of a piece. It’s easy to hear that he also excels when playing Prokofiev and Shostakovich as well as many modern composers of the UK, but he is also known for his recordings of the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven.

This is not a CD that one just puts on in the background, and it may take the listener more than one complete run through to fully appreciate the nuances of the composer’s work, but it’s well worth the effort to expand one’s horizons and to get to know the work of Erik Chisholm.

Suzanne Torrey




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