MEET THE MUSIC-MAKERS: Murray Mclachlan & family


Murray McClachlan & family. A Camel House Concert

BBC Music Magazine had already introduced to me the musician in glowing terms.

“Murray McLachlan is a pianist with a virtuoso technique and a sure sense of line. His timing and phrasing are impeccable, and his tone, full but unforced in the powerful passages, gentle and restrained in the more lyrical, is a perpetual delight”

That certainly sounded promising and having heard Veronika Shoot deliver a wonderful recital here last year we knew we would be hearing something just as special.

Murray McLachlan

Since making his professional debut in 1986, when only twenty one, under the baton of Sir Alexander Gibson, MurrayMcLachlan has consistently received outstanding critical acclaim.  Educated at Chetham’s School of Music and Cambridge University, his mentors included Ronald Stevenson, David Hartigan, Ryszard Bakst, Peter Katin and Norma Fisher.   His recording career began in 1988 and immediately attracted international attention. 

Murray´s recordings of contemporary music have won numerous accolades, including full star ratings, as well as ‘rosette’ and ‘key recording’ status in the Penguin Guide to CDs, and ‘Disc of the month’ and ‘Record of the month ‘in ‘Music on the web’ and ‘The Herald’. McLachlan’s discography now  includes over forty commercial recordings, including the complete sonatas of Beethoven, Myaskovsky and Prokofiev, the six concertos of  Alexander Tcherepnin, the 24 Preludes and Fugues of  Rodion Shchedrin, Ronald Stevenson’s ‘Passacaglia on DSCH’  the major works of Kabalevsky, Khatchaturian and the complete solo piano music of Erik Chisholm.

McLachlan’s repertoire includes over 40 concertos and 25 recital programmes.  He has performed the complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle six times, as well as the complete piano music of Brahms.  He has given first performances of works by many composers, including Martin Butler, Ronald Stevenson, Charles Camilleri, Michael Parkin and even Beethoven!  

Whilst appearing as soloist with most of the leading UK orchestras, his recognition has been far-reaching, bringing invitations to perform on all five continents.  At the same time he continues to give numerous concerts and master classes in the UK.

McLachlan teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music and at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester where he has been Head of Keyboard since 1997.  He is the founder of the Manchester International Concerto competition for young pianists as well as the Founder/Artistic Director of the world famous Chetham’s International Summer school and festival for Pianists, Europe’s largest summer school devoted exclusively to the piano.   As a teacher McLachlan continues to be very busy and in demand.    Many of his students have won prizes in competitions and continued with their own successful careers as performers.


Murray McLachlan is Chair of the both the executive council and the  UK section of the European Piano Teachers’ Association (EPTA UK).  As well as performing and teaching, he is well known internationally for his numerous articles on Piano technique and repertoire.  This includes extended columns which have appeared in ‘International Piano’ ‘Pianist’ and ‘Piano’ Magazines. He was  editor of ‘Piano Professional’ Magazine from 2007-14  He is currently editor of Piano Journal. His books for Faber ‘Foundations of Piano Technique’ and ‘Piano Technique in Practice’ were issued in 2014 an 2015 to wide acclaim.

In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Dundee for outstanding services to music and education.  This follows on from a knighthood awarded in 1997 by the Order of St John of Jerusalem in recognition of his services to music in Malta. Murray McLachlan is artistic director of the Camel House Concerts in Lanzarote, Vice President of the North East of Scotland Music School and a patron of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and the Grampian Region Youth Orchestra.

The Camel House

Here in 2020 he delivered a recital with his entire family at The Camel House On Lanzarote (see xxx) after his scheduled 2019 solo concert there had to be postponed. To hear each family member player was a wonderful recompense for all lovers of the series of the occasional series of classical concerts held in this wonderful venue.

Here in 2020 he delivered a recital with his entire family at The Camel House On Lanzarote after his scheduled 2019 solo concert there had to be postponed. To see an entire family of superb players was a wonderful recompense for all lovers of the series of the occasional series of classical concerts held in this wonderful venue.

Tonight he delivered a recital with his entire family at The Camel House On Lanzarote after a scheduled 2019 solo concert at the venue had to be postponed. To see Murray now introducing his wife and children, who comprise a wonderfully talented family, was a significant recompense for all lovers of the occasional series of classical concerts held in this now almost fabled venue.

The recitals by Murray´s children were opened by nineteen year old Matthew. He has just commenced studies at the Royal College of Music in London with a full scholarship.

Matthew has won dazzling critical acclaim for his performances of Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto and has an enormous repertoire ranging from Bach to the present day. His study of Charconne in D minor by Bach and Busoni presented us with intriguing variations and dramatic overtones, in a recital that held attention throughout.

Seventeen year old Rose will perform at the Royal Festival Hall for BBC Radio 3 in May and has already won four international competitions. Her programme included ravishing Debussy Preludes and Schumann’s effervescent Abegg variations.

In performance tonight she played with perfect posture and a maturity that belied her years. Occasionally cross hand, she showed an ability to hang notes in the air and the motifs in the higher register in Schumann´s work were exquisite. Her representation of Debussy trod easily the path between high drama and tinkling playfulness, and somehow it was easy to see that sunlight streaming through the window as a moonbeam lighting her way as Rose skipped in and out of the shadows.

Equally impressive was twenty one year old Callum, now studying at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. This young pianist has already seen his interpretation of Beethoven’s celebrated ‘Pathetique’ sonata flag-shipped as being ´authoritative´ and published on the prestigious international Henle Urtext edition website.

Tonight he brought us back to Schumann, but this time to the composer´s Etudes symphoniques Opus 13, another work exploring variations on a theme.

There should be no doubt, though, that to reach these standards these young and gifted players from a wonderful genealogical line, must have worked and studied incredibly hard and must have made several sacrifices that some youngsters might have been unwilling to make. It is because of that attitude as much as their innate talents that a long and successful career in classical music surely beckons each of them.

None of them tonight appeared to be playing from music and it seemed evident on occasions that even a public performance in the company of their parents might be a release from the rigours of an academic approach to music.

In concert here, their love of what they were playing and their apparent individual abilities of losing themselves in the reverie of the pieces might have been evidence that actual playing is what justifies the years of study and the lifelong practice.

Matthew began the second half of this concert to a full hall with Chopin´s Etude in A flat, opus 25 number 1, at times tumultuous and even threatening and at others seeming to tumble like water from a mountain spring.

Whilst there didn´t seem to be any competitive element among the family performers there was now a moment, as Matthew took his bow, that signified a ceding of ground to the ´old guard´ as represented by their admittedly still very youthful parents. 

Murray offered another side of Chopin, with his Polonaisse in A flat opus 53 and a slow movement from Rachmaninov piano concerto number 1 in F sharp minor. He gave us us wonderful notes from all parts and both colours of the keyboard that reminded us and reassured us that however extensive are the skills already acquired by his young children, the dad can still play a bit too. Nevertheless, without ever being gushing, his pride in his family was written by the smile on his face.

The concert was brought to  wonderful close with a sequence that saw Murray joined by his wife, Kathryn Page, also an international virtuoso player, for Gershwin’s dazzling and effervescent arrangement of his world famous ‘Rhapsody in Blue’.

According to the influential Cambridge Music Handbook, The Rhapsody In Blue, composed in 1924, established Gershwin´s  reputation as a serious  composer, and the composition itself has since become one of the most popular of all American concert works. Written for solo piano and jazz band, the piece contains elements of classical music with jazz influenced effects.

Full of jazzy, poppy and decidedly modern twentieth century sounds, this incredible duet delivery gave the piece a grandeur I have until now somehow overlooked. As performed by Kathryn and Murray here, this music swept across the wide open plains and seemed to gawp at and celebrate the multi-culturalism of the then new build American cities and was, in its way, as exclamatory and rhapsodic as Copeland.

McLachlan Family musicians

This long delayed and therefore even more keenly anticipated concert had provided us with a programme of vibrant piano classics by the international concert pianist Murray McLachlan and also an introduction to his wife and their award-winning family of virtuoso children.

Murray McLachlan and Family take a bow

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