El Norte (Monterrey, Mexico), October 3rd 2023
Solo recital for 27th Festival Internacional de Piano Sala Beethoven, Monterrey, October 2nd 2023
Leon McCawley displayed to the audience that attended the Auditorio San Pedro not only his immaculateness and level- headedness in the interpretation of classical repertoire (which included the Sonata No. 38 in F major of Haydn) but also an elegance and virtuosity very much in tune with the quality of performances to which this festival has accustomed us.
The recital began precisely with Haydn’s work in which the pianist displayed clean, thoughtful articulation and phrasing, with rhythmic clarity. Later, he performed Two Nocturnes Op. 55 by Chopin. The deeply emotional interpretation of these melancholic pages drew ‘’bravos’’ from the public. McCawley continued with Beethoven’s Sonata No. 26 in E flat major, known as “Les Adieux” where he gave a measured, reflective, technically impeccable reading, capturing the author’s emotional chiaroscuro in his touch.
The second part of the recital consisted of Two Rhapsodies Op. 79 by Johannes Brahms, in which the pianist overcame the technical challenges, and to conclude, Faschingsschwank aus Wien (Carnival Jest from Vienna) by Robert Schumann. Structured in five contrasting movements, the work allowed for a virtuoso and dynamic display by this master pianist from the Royal College of Music in London. The audience gave him a standing ovation.
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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.
Solo Recital for Singapore International Piano Festival at Victoria Concert Hall, June 12th 2022