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
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.
Solo Recital at Wigmore Hall, March 19th 2021
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