Leon McCawley
Tue, 27th Jan 2015

On 2 February 2015 pianist Leon McCawley releases his next recording for SOMM with the Rachmaninov Complete Preludes.

The Ten Preludes Op. 23, the Op. 3 Prelude and the Thirteen Preludes Op. 32 represent all twenty -four major and minor keys and are considered to be among Rachmaninov's best works for solo piano. The success of his first Prelude proved to be double-edged. It became so popular that it travelled round the world to the point where in the 1920s in New York he heard the Paul Whiteman Band play a jazz version and as a touring virtuoso he would not be allowed to leave without playing it as an encore. His Ten preludes Op. 23 were composed in a burst of creativity in the year that the he married his beloved cousin Natalia. In 1910, at the very height of his powers, Rachmaninov completed his set of 24 Preludes with a final group of 13 comprising his Opus 32.

The Preludes have the charm, lyricism and nostalgic melancholy intrinsic to Rachmaninov. They can be played individually or as separate sets but hearing them in sequence demonstrates a rarely perceived but always present aspect of this great pianist composer.

Leon McCawley

English pianist Leon McCawley leapt into prominence when he won both First Prize in the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna and Second Prize in the Leeds International Piano Competition at the age of nineteen in 1993.

Since then, McCawley has given highly acclaimed recitals that include London's Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center New York, Prague Rudolfinum and Vienna Musikverein. McCawley performs frequently with many of the top British orchestras and has performed several times at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. He broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 in recital and with many of the BBC orchestras. Further afield he has performed with Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Philhadelphia Orchestra and Vienna Symphony among many others. Conductors he has worked with include Daniele Gatti, Paavo Järvi, Kurt Masur and Simon Rattle.

McCawley's wide-ranging discography has received many accolades including two "Editor's Choice" awards in Gramophone and a Diapason d'Or for his boxed set of The Complete Mozart Piano Sonatas and more recently, a Gramophone Critic's Choice 2011 for his recording of Barber Piano Music for SOMM.

McCawley studied at Chetham's School of Music, Manchester with Heather Slade-Lipkin and at the Curtis Institute of Music with Eleanor Sokoloff. He also worked with Nina Milkina in London.

Leon McCawley is a professor of piano at London's Royal College of Music and is married to the painter, Anna Hyunsook Paik.

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