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Barber: Piano Music

Barber:
Piano Sonata, Op. 26
Excursions Op. 20
Souvenirs, Op. 28
Nocturne, Op. 33
Ballade Op. 46
Interlude I, "For Jeanne"

Leon McCawley (piano)
This programme of piano works by one of America's foremost 20th century composers will make an ideal companion disc to the four others already in this series. Leon McCawley is a British pianist, born 1973, who studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the same conservatory that Barber himself attended for lessons in piano, composition and voice. Excursions, Op.20, was written during the years 1942–44 and is the only work in which Barber adopted a style that might be termed 'American', with it's use of boogie-woogie, blues, a cowboy song and hoedown. The Op.26 Piano Sonata was written in 1949, when it's première was given by Vladimir Horowitz. It has since maintained a prominent position in the repertoire. The Souvenirs, Op.28 of 1952 exist not only in two piano versions but also as a ballet score. In these short and easily appealing pieces Barber adopts a style somewhere between Satie & Prokofiev but, in all essentials, remains true to himself. Although, after the 1966 failure of his third opera Antony and Cleopatra, Barber continued to compose, his music became far more reflective and concentrated. The Ballade, Op.46, from 1977, is a fine example of Barber's later music.

This pianist makes deeply expressive use of the piano's enormous potential & gives an interpretation which sucks you into a whole new world of sounds. The Excursions incorporate American folk tunes and rhythms& are captivatingly played by this young English pianist, and winner of several international competitions, Leon McCawley. Barber's fiendishly difficult Sonata Opus 26 is given an authoritative performance. Leon McCawley's account shines through in the dazzling Scherzo & the virtuoso closing Fuga, whilst his melancholy lyricism wins your heart. If you like this disc, you should listen to this pianist's delightful Beethoven recording...

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