Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor Tackles Chopin, Ravel and Liszt
Sunday, April 15, 2012
The 19-year-old English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor has a budding career defined by a number of firsts: at age 11 he became the youngest-ever keyboard winner of the BBC's Young Musician of the Year award, an annual prize. Last year he became the youngest soloist ever to open the BBC Proms, a big deal on the international festival circuit. London’s music critics, a generally skeptical crowd, can’t seem to hold their praises.
Last month, Grosvenor made his New York recital debut at the Frick Collection, a program that will be broadcast later this spring on WQXR. In the meantime, there’s a new recording that’s worth your time. The collection artfully pairs the scherzos and nocturnes of Chopin with Ravel’s epic Gaspard de la nuit and a late gem by Liszt (En reve). It’s an ambitious showcase of his prodigious abilities.
Alternating scherzos and nocturnes, Grosvenor shows he has a genuine feel for Chopin, applying subtle shadings and rubatos. His C-sharp minor Nocturne is especially notable for its feather-like touch and introspective quality. Meanwhile, Ravel’s Gaspard, one of the most grueling works in the piano repertoire, is becoming a calling card of Grosvenor, not something many young pianists would attempt. He plays the fast movements with precision and clarity, while employing a ravishing tonal pallet to the hazy "Le Gibet.”
It’s hard to know yet where Grosvenor will make his mark on the piano world (he's studying at London's Royal Academy of Music) but this collection suggests that he’s off to promising start.
Available at Arkivmusic.com