SOMM Recordings is pleased to announce Leon McCawley’s Second Volume of Piano Sonatas by Franz Joseph Haydn.
McCawley’s admired first volume, pairing Haydn’s Sonatas and Variations (SOMMCD 0162), received a coveted Diapason d’Or for playing of “great intelligibility and sensitivity”. Sonata No.60 from Volume I has been selected by Diapason to appear on its next CD, Les indispensables de Diapason, featuring six Haydn sonatas played on different keyboards.
In his authoritative booklet notes, Bryce Morrison makes a persuasive argument for the Piano Sonatas in “celebrating Haydn’s endless innovation, richness and variety and, most importantly, his humanity”. Those qualities are brilliantly realised by McCawley in six sonatas spanning 25 years.
Caught on the cusp of youth and maturity, Sonata No.19 is a work of lyrical and dramatic contrasts with a unique structure and surprising innovation. At odds with the inherited image of Haydn as a prankster, Sonata No.47 inhabits a dark, even menacing world that concludes in abrupt savagery. The Bach-accented Sonata No.50 is a work characterised by scintillating writing, Sonata No.54, in Morrison’s memorable phrase, “falls like balm on the ear”.
Ushering in new approaches and radical thinking, two late Sonatas – Nos. 58 and 59 – show Haydn anticipating Beethoven with prescient command of tone and combustible technique.
Leon McCawley’s previous recordings for SOMM have received wide critical praise. Gramophone hailed his complete Rachmaninov Preludes (SOMMCD 0143) as “a distinguished issue”, and the “superb collection” of Samuel Barber’s piano music (SOMMCD 0108) was an Editor’s Choice.
Fanfare described his playing of Brahms (SOMMCD 0116) as “music-making of a very high order” with International Record Review adding: “When all is said and done, it is difficult to know whether McCawley’s refined piano playing, his natural yet cultivated musicality or his boundless imagination warrants the greater praise. You must hear the recording”.
On This Recording
Sonata No.50 in D major, Hob. XVI:37 [10:28]
- I Allegro con brio
- II Largo e sostenuto
- III Finale: Presto ma non troppo Sonata No.54 in G major, Hob. XVI:40 [11:49]
- I Allegretto innocente
- II Presto Sonata No.19 in E minor, Hob. XVI:47 [12:51]
- I Adagio
- II Allegro
- III Finale: Tempo di Menuet Sonata No.47 in B minor, Hob. XVI:32 [11:00]
- I Allegro moderato
- II Menuet
- III Finale: Presto Sonata No.58 in C major, Hob. XVI:48 [11:19]
- I Andante con espressione
- II Rondo: Presto Sonata No.59 in E flat major, Hob. XVI:49 [19:35]
- I Allegro
- II Adagio e cantabile
- III Finale: Tempo di Minuet
“a well-balanced selection of six sonatas… recorded with appropriate crispness and cantabile in Turner Sims hall. The sparkle of McCawley’s touch is instantly apparent… as is his evenness of fingering in the passagework… Most impressive throughout the disc is McCawley’s command of subtle nuance and rubato without ever sounding self-conscious or mannered. The impression, so artfully mediated, is that the music is being allowed to speak for its witty, turbulent, elegant or serene self. … this collection should stand high on any list.”
—Bayan Northcott, BBC Music Magazine ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“One could happily describe in more detail the different moods conjured up by McCawley’s playing, not to mention the idiosyncrasies of tempo or accentuation. The warm sound of the Steinway contributes to our ample pleasure, as well as the polyphonic clarity or the joy in the lighthearted pages (the finale of Sonata No. 54). Never a trace of any exaggeration. Combining sobriety, precision and liveliness, the British pianist offers us a kaleidoscopic and enjoyable re-discovery evident in these Sonatas”. —Jérôme Bastianelli, Diapason