Murray McLachlan: Innovations, Music for Two Pianos and Percussion

review innovations mclachlan x1 cong

Other critics have called it “excellent” and “hugely impressive” but we found this is a little intimidating for its early plays: The Rite of Spring but on steroids.

The playing is technically impressive, and the sound is bracing and enervating, but it’s a programme that’s challenging and powerful, if not harsh. Obviously, another pair of ears might relish that challenge.

Perhaps this is only to be expected: each composer on the CD was an innovator and the sleeve notes open by discussing Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, whose “avant-garde nature … caused a sensation and a near-riot in the audience” at its premiere, (reports Wikipedia).

Now it’s considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century, but it’s a work that’s meant to shake up the listener — it’s about a girl dancing herself to death — with its power; at its premiere, the theatre was prepared for a riot. At least the orchestral version has strings to add some balance; this version is only piano and percussion.

The programme opens with Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion, and this is followed by The Rite of Spring and Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.

Possibly not for the casual listener and certainly not for someone who enjoys a lovely bit of piano, no matter how proficiently this is played. Fans of The Rite of Spring will find it a fresh take on an old piece, however.

Out on Divine Art’s Diversions label, DDV 24167.

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