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Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4 (Leon McCawley)

Leon McCawley (piano) (SOMM)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4: Nos 1, 30, 35, 48, 49 & 51
Leon McCawley (piano)
SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 0643   78:08 mins


This latest release in Leon McCawley’s highly praised Haydn sonatas series centres on three of the diversely inventive set of six he published in 1780. The opening movement of No. 48 may be familiar as a learning piece in its C major frolics, yet the odd sequence of starkly rhetorical opening movement, frisky alternating-variation ‘Scherzando’ and wan little concluding Minuet of No. 49 in C sharp minor comprises an expressive challenge, while the flying scale-flurries of the opening movement of No. 51 in E flat demand high-level dexterity.

McCawley intersperses three earlier sonatas of which even the tiny divertimento-like No. 1 in G has its Haydn-esque asymmetries, while No. 30 in D major, dating from 1767, is already on a large scale with an unusual exploration of the lower range of the keyboard in its slow movement, and the dashing  rondo finale of No. 35 in A flat from 1773 gets more eccentric as it goes on. McCawley’s choices of tempos are unfailingly convincing, his articulation is lucid, crisp and full of contained vitality and he finds a touching pathos in such minor key movements as the C minor Siciliana of No. 51. This is playing that makes maximal musical sense of Haydn’s notation unalloyed by exaggeration or mannerism.


Bayan Northcott