In its Historic Series, The British Music Society has reissued, for the first time on CD, McCabe’s piano recordings from 1968 and 1972. The CD includes all the material from McCabe’s recital disc Pastorale, recorded in 1972 and released on LP by Decca, plus two other items.
"This year John McCabe celebrates his 70th birthday, and we should celebrate with him his selfless devotion to the promotion of the music of others...The British Music Society...has now issued in timely fashion this immensely valuable and downright enjoyable CD of performances...which still sound excellent, with full piano tone and very silent background...we should welcome the opportunity of acquiring this well-filled CD...A lovely record."
Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion, July/August 2009
“This beautifully produced release is a timely tribute to John McCabe on his 70th birthday and a well-deserved homage to his unflagging dedication to British music.”
Hubert Culot, BMS News, June 2009
“Released in celebration of John McCabe's 70th birthday, this splendid recital is a timely reminder of what we will soon be missing, for McCabe announced earlier this year his intention to retire from the concert platform. The present disc, recorded mostly in 1972, is typical of his enterprising programme-planning, with the familiar and not-so-familiar rubbing shoulders on equal terms.
“Whereas some pianists impress through force of virtuosity, McCabe exceptionally brings the composer's insights to bear on whatever he performs...he produces the best account I have heard of Britten's then-still-new Night-Piece (1963, recorded in 1968 Pye sessions), framed between Moeran's slight but enjoyable Bank Holiday (1925) and Joubert's electrifying suite. The re-engineered sound is fine throughout - a fitting testimonial to a truly great pianist.”
Guy Rickards, Gramophone, October 2009
“McCabe's pianism is unerring in its quiet authority and immaculate technique, and his recording of the complete Haydn Piano Sonatas remains something of a bench-mark (now available as a bargain box set on Decca)...The programme is dominated by short works (the longest is just six minutes), which are performed with the lightest of touch and with exquisite sensitivity in regard to colour and counterpoint...The Lake in the Mountains [is] beautifully layered with a rippling backdrop over which the melody is effortlessly projected... Ireland's Sonatina forms the centre of this programme, in a passionate and intense performance that is constantly searching, upholding McCabe's belief that this work 'represents his [Ireland's] art at its purest and possibly its finest'; the finale is wonderfully exuberant, with fantastic left-hand projection and clear textures throughout...piano playing of immense subtlety and integrity. The programme notes, by McCabe himself, are imbued with the same modesty and unassuming brilliance that marks the whole programme.”
Nicholas Salwey, International Record Review, October 2009
“A marvellous collection of relatively unfamiliar works by diverse composers, most of whom wrote little music for piano. McCabe is an outstanding advocate, effortlessly capturing the spirit of these assorted gems.”
Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine, December 2009