Schubert: Drei Klavierstücke, D 946; ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy, D 760; Schubert (arr Liszt): Du bist die Ruh; Die junge; Auf dem Wasser zu singen; Sei mir gegrüsst; Der Wanderer

Reviewed on Wed 28 Nov, 2018

This is strong Schubert playing, the sort we might have had from Backhaus or Serkin.

Leon McCawley’s urgent performances of the three late Schubert Klavierstücke remind me of a long-held ambition to recommend the pieces as interludes at pivotal points in Schubert’s Winterreise song-cycle. They fit the mood to a T, the first especially, running breathless in realms of incipient tragedy. McCawley knows how to gauge mood and colour, especially in the Adagio section of the 'Wanderer' Fantasy, while the fugato opening of the finale – which so often degenerates into percussive clatter – here sounds just what it is, a decisively conclusive allegro. This is strong Schubert playing, the sort we might have had from Backhaus or Serkin. And there are the Liszt transcriptions, all of them well played, Du bist die Ruh drawing to a noble climax, Die junge Nonne suitably wind tossed, Auf dem Wasser zu singen, as lyrical as Schubert’s original, Sei mir gegrüsst warmly voiced and Der Wanderer, another sympathetic interpretation, sensibly placed directly before the Fantasy. Excellent sound, too, and superb booklet-notes from Bryce Morrison.
–Rob Cowan