Schumann

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Somm
ALBUM TITLE: Leon McCawley: Schumann
WORKS: Faschingsschwank aus Wien; Kinderszenen; Etudes Symphoniques
PERFORMER: Leon McCawley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 0134

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Leon McCawley’s self-effacing musicianship and luminous tonal refinement were evident in his earlier two-disc Schumann set on Avie. Here his expressive directness and unfussily supple phrasing is especially effective in Kinderszenen. He eschews self-indulgence – perhaps slightly under-egging the beautiful ‘Träumerei’ – and yet beneath the surface there is plenty going on, small details of voicing and phrasing and little emphases that speak more on repeated listening. His expressive simplicity in ‘Kind im Einschlummern’, Kinderszenen’s penultimate piece, is most touching.

I’m less convinced by the more fantastical parts of Faschingsschwank aus Wien and Etudes symphoniques, works that require a more kaleidoscopic imagination and a greater contrast between intimacy and grandeur. At times I wished for stronger musical pointing – rhythmically, texturally, temperamentally – so that small details of voicing and phrasing could tell more vividly. For a rather freer approach, try Maria João Pires in Faschingsschwank aus Wien, where the music floats free of its bar lines yet retains its rhythmical and structural coherence.

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Tim Parry