Young virtuoso Benjamin Grosvenor lights up Snape Proms
PUBLISHED: 12:40 15 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:40 15 August 2019
Review: Benjamin Grosvenor, Piano Recital, Snape Proms, Snape Maltings Conceert Hall, August 11
Still only 27, Benjamin Grosvenor made his breakthrough early and is already an established figure, both in Britain and overseas. In this astutely constructed programme, drawn largely from the romantic repertoire, he explored some of the less frequented paths revealing many striking musical vistas.
The first half was devoted entirely to Schumann; Blumenstuck (Flower Piece) immediately captured the attention, the flowing melody and descending left hand figure perfectly differentiated.
Kreisleriana was inspired by the writings of ETA Hoffmann and is full of contrasts, ranging from the explosive and virtuoso to the expressive and introvert. Grosvenor delivered with aplomb the dexterity and power required for the rapid triplets in the opening passage and gave a deep and reflective reading of the noble recurring theme. Throughout, he demonstrated superb pianistic control, brio and brilliance when required yet quite without flamboyance.
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Chopin's two piano concertos were greatly admired by the Russian pianist and composer Mily Balakirev who arranged the slow movement of the first concerto for solo piano. The gentle, nocturne-like character was delicately portrayed with the lightest of touches and his pianissimos were exquisite.
The Barcarolle is one of Chopin's finest achievements and was certainly the most familiar work in the programme. Grosvenor got everything absolutely right, from the opening undulations to the falling passages in sixths and the gradual unfolding of the melodic strands and harmonic subtleties. Surely if the composer had written nothing else this work alone would have placed him in the highest echelons and it received a performance fully equal to its stature.
A selection from Prokofiev's Visions Fugitives gave a short period of relaxation with attractive and typical miniatures from this inventive composer. The pieces, ranging from spiky and percussive to cheeky and melancholy were played with a cheerful panache that was wholly engaging.
The recital concluded with Liszt's barnstorming Reminiscences de Norma (Bellini). It is a showpiece designed for the best pianists and Grosvenor delivered it with consummate skill and elan. The melodies rang out with crystalline clarity, the repeated thundering octaves never faltered and the stirring climax melted into a tumultuous and deserved ovation.