Schubert/Mccawley CD review

SCHUBERT: McCawley (Somm Recording SOMMCD 0188) ★★★★★
Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy in C major has received some heavy-handed "virtuoso" performances with even great pianists inclined to pull tempi about to make an interpretative point. McCawley's playing reveals sensitive phrasing, rhythmic precision and no excessive keyboard rhetoric. The opening movement is crisp and energetic, a true Allegromaking Pollini's slower tempo on his otherwise magisterial recording (DG) sound a little staid. The work is a landmark of stormy musical romanticism but McCawley doesn't overlook its lyricism, with a beautifully expressive Adagio. Liszt's five arrangements of Schubert lieder put virtuosity in the service of the music. In McCawley's hands the growing religious ecstasy of Die junge Nonne and the aching melancholy of Du bist die Ruh are palpable. The Drei Klavierstücke are like musical versions of Hoffmann's magical tales – disturbing, dream-like and disorientating with McCawley capturing their kaleidoscopic moods. His performances are enhanced by an outstandingly clear and faithful recording.
Norman Stinchcombe

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