Fuga (Journal Of The Ronald Stevenson Society)

Shostakovich’s DSCH ‘signature’ provided Stevenson with his most famous work, the vast Passacaglia on DSCH for piano, which dates from the early 1960s. This is, one is quite prepared to believe, Stevenson’s masterpiece, and is without question a major addition to the repertoire – a continuous work, lasting 80-plus minutes, and holding the attention throughout. The work was, therefore, in the nature of things, the highlight of the Saturday concerts, and drew the largest audience, who were held spellbound by the mastery of the work itself and by the outstanding playing of Murray McLachlan, whose commitment to the composer in general, and to this work in particular, were self-evidently total. This was quite superb pianism, allied to a structural command that knows no peers. The Passacaglia is an out-and-out masterpiece, which will be played long after much music of the last 50 years is justifiably forgotten.

—Robert Matthew-Walker