CharlesHutchPress, October 24th 2022
Solo recital at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York, October 12th 2022

Athletes and performers alike talk about being “in the zone”. Leon McCawley found it here. He played the Schubert like a man possessed, not running amok, quite the opposite. The audience sensed it early on and kept incredibly quiet, even between movements. No-one wanted to break the extraordinary spell he generated.

Although Schubert’s multiple key-changes can easily disrupt the flow, they were not allowed to here, seeming perfectly and smoothly logical. This slackened not a whit in the Andante, which was deeply thoughtful and ended with the same serenity we had heard earlier.

The scherzo was fiery but light, with crisp inner voices. Gravity returned in the trio but evaporated with the scherzo’s return and peaceful conclusion. The finale was inevitably more extrovert, and even briefly stormy, but the scale was always intimate, as if secrets were being shared rather than trumpeted around the hall.

By now McCawley had the audience in the palm of his hand and could have got away with almost anything. But he kept faith with our intelligence and resisted the temptation to over-explain. It was possible to believe that this was exactly how Schubert intended it to be. Certainly it was a performance never to be forgotten.
Martin Dreyer

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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.

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