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The Straits Times, June 15th 2022
Solo Recital for Singapore International Piano Festival at Victoria Concert Hall, June 12th 2022
British pianist Leon McCawley’s recital returned to the classical world of Vienna, represented by Haydn’s masterly Variations in F minor and Mozart’s rarely heard Sonata in F major (K533/494), brought out with gravitas that was both touching and moving. In the fast movements of the Mozart, clarity and illumination were the rule, and the music could not have been more tastefully rendered.
Then there was Schubert’s final Sonata in B flat major (D. 960) where McCawley’s sense of proportion and architecture was peerless. Playing the exposition repeat of its first movement ensured that its warmth and lyricism were doubly enjoyed.
An overwhelming sense of mortality possessed the haunting slow movement. This, balanced by the apparent gaiety of the last two movements, gave this magnificently judged performance a human perspective that has become all too rare.
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Seen and Heard International, April 18th 2021
Solo Recital at Wigmore Hall, March 19th 2021
[In] Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke McCawley captured the driven febrile quality of the first piece with its racing triplets and there was close attention to detail and richly varied tonal and dynamic contrasts. The second piece in E flat received a ravishing performance here. The opening section was enchanting and a rare moment of poetic beauty. Both here and in the ensuing two episodes McCawley gave a masterclass on how to make the piano sing. The third piece with its syncopations was robust and lively in equal measure and I loved the handling of the modulation ushering in the central section. McCawley’s virtuoso technique came to the fore in the coda driving the set to an exhilarating conclusion.
Seen and Heard International, October 17th 2020
Solo Recital at Wigmore Hall, October 10th 2020
There was much to admire in McCawley’s sterling interpretation of this work [Schubert Sonata D664]. He displayed enormous sensitivity and tenderness while also breathing life into the more dramatic elements of the work and the strong dynamic contrasts. The slow movement was poetic and eloquent, and McCawley did a wonderful job in capturing the reflective intimacy of the music. The finale was enchanting as Schubert’s scales and runs bubbled along delightfully.
Overall, this was an extremely impressive piano recital featuring a consistently high standard of playing throughout.
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