Leon McCawley (Piano)

Monday 23rd September 2019
7:30pm at the Penrith Methodist Church
Tickets: £20 (students £2), at the door or in advance.


It is a surprise to discover that it is over thirteen years since Leon McCawley last appeared in a Penrith Music Club recital.

His programme on that occasion included sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven, Chopin’s Scherzo No.4 and a rarely-heard piece by the Czech composer, Janacek – On an Overgrown Path – which evokes memories of the composer’s youth, much in the manner of Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood. We have had some fine piano recitals over the years but this is one that particularly sticks in the memory.

Before that appearance in 2006, Leon had already achieved notable success as a prize-winner in the International Piano Competition in Vienna, the Leeds International Piano Competition and in the piano section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Since that time he has become recognised as one of Britain’s finest pianists, performing as a solo artist and with orchestras throughout the world. His association with the Leeds International Piano Competition was recognised in March 2018 when he was invited to give a recital at A Life in Music, an event celebrating the dedication and inspiration of Dame Fanny Waterman, the founder of the Competition in 1961 and now in her hundredth year. The recital included music by Haydn, Hans Gál, Chopin and Beethoven, the first three of whom are represented in this evening’s concert.

Leon McCawley’s recital begins with a sonata by Haydn from the Classical period; the remainder of the programme, with the exception of the Three Sketches by the Austrian composer Hans Gál (1910), comes from the extensive repertoire of 19th century piano music, and includes works by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Chopin.

Schubert’s Sonata in C minor (D.958) was written in the last year of his life (1828). It is the first of his final group of three sonatas, which are regarded as some of his greatest piano music. Written in the usual four movement structure of this period, it is remarkable for its wide range of keys and surprisingly dark and sombre third movement minuet.

Schumann’s Abegg Variations was written just two years later and was his first published work.  The unusual title reflects Schumann’s fascination with plays on words. Meta Abegg was a young pianist and dance partner of Schumann – the dedication of the work is to the fictitious Countess Pauline von Abegg. The main tune is based on the letters of her surname – A Bb E G G (B in German notation is our Bb, H is the German equivalent of our note B).

Brahms’s Four Piano Pieces (op.119) were published in 1893 and were his final compositions for piano. The first three of the pieces are Intermezzos with a lighter touch – the final piece is a Rhapsody in which Brahms goes back to the grand manner of his earlier piano music.

Chopin’s spectacular and patriotic Polonaise-Faintasie (op.61), a huge favourite with concert audiences since it became a standard part of the recital programmes of such virtuoso pianists as Rubinstein. Arrau and Horowitz, completes what should be an exhilarating start to our 76th season.

Preview by Colin Marston


Haydn Sonata in G Hob. XVI:40
Schubert Sonata in C minor D.958
Schumann  Abegg Variatios op.1
Hans Gàl  Three Sketches op.7 (1910)
Brahms  4 Klavierstücke op119
Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie op.61

More about Leon McCawley

Updated on 25th April 2020
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