Orchestral concerts often include one concerto, but two are unusual, unless you’re talking shorter works from the Baroque. Three is virtually unheard of unless you happen to be Torbay Symphony Orchestra (TSO), who not only played the first three Beethoven Piano Concertos on one night, but followed this with the Fourth and Fifth the next day.
Their first task, however, was to find the right soloist, or as here, family of soloists to undertake the marathon task. Manchester might be renowned for its two football clubs, but it’s also home to Chetham’s School of Music, where concert-pianist and teacher Murray McLachlan is Head of Keyboard, and, rather like the von Trapps, his children have inherited his family musical genes and those of wife Kathryn, and, together, provided the soloists for this superb Beethoven Fest.
Under the inspirational direction of conductor Richard Gonski, and ably led by Chris Eastman, TSO were joined by Matthew (16), Rose (14) and Callum (17) for the first three concertos respectively, leaving Dad Murray to despatch the Fourth and Fifth next day. Each performed impeccably from memory, the individual piano playing was outstanding in every respect, and, furthermore, brought out the best from the accompanying orchestra.
The concertos, though, were just part of a fascinating and unique weekend of open rehearsals, masterclasses and talks, which will surely be the talk of the town for years to come – for performers and audience alike.
PHILIP R BUTTALL