Murray McLachlan's sleeve-note quotes Glenn Gould's remarks on the resemblance between Miaskovsky's piano works and Ives—a comparison whose inappropriateness can only be explained by the fact that Gould knew very little of Ives's music at the time. In fact these sonatas, composed between 1907 and 1920 with later revisions, sail proudly under the flag of Glazunov/Taneyev academicism (the multi-movement Nos. 1 and 6) or else in the less salubrious wake of Scriabin (the single-movement Nos. 2 and 3). They are well put together, pleasant to listen to, and devoid of emotional excess, but also largely unmemorable and not always successful in justifying their length (and Gould himself was perfectly well aware of their weaknesses too). As such they are valuable for rounding out the picture of the Russian late-romantic tradition, and the brief intersections with early Prokofiev (finale of No. 1) and, as McLachlan astutely observes, French pastoral style (all three movements of No. 6) are noteworthy. The Third Sonata has at least one idea sufficiently striking for Rachmaninov to hark back to it in the Paganini Rhapsody.
The piano writing is strong and idiomatic in the best turn-of-the-century fashion, and McLachlan proves to be a worthy exponent—lucid, tasteful and well prepared, declining to interpose any strong personality of his own. This is probably no bad thing when the music is so little-known, although some of it almost cries out to be treated as Horowitz-fodder and might actually prove rather exciting given that treatment. The recorded sound is perfectly acceptable and all in all this is a welcome and recommendable issue.
Gramophone, December 1988
Olympia's sound across all three discs is more imperious than the Marco Polo equivalent. McLachlan has a more fluid delivery than Hegedüs and in the First Sonata is also two minutes faster overall without seeming to scant over the reflective moments. The Sonata is not terribly satisfactory and has an odds and ends character - seeming unresolved. McLachlan makes more of the stuttering Non allegro - allegro linking it explicitly with the Rachmaninov Preludes. In the Third Sonata McLachlan is in tune with the mildew and evanescent decay of the experimental works that found their perigee in the Fourth Sonata and Symphonies 10 and 13. This is more Frank Bridge and Bernard van Dieren than the Macdowell-geniality of the later works. Hegedüs captures better the music box charm of the Sixth Sonata though the great slashing challenge of the Molto vivo is better rendered by McLachlan who also makes a more dynamic fist of the muscular Second Sonata and its Lisztian diablerie.