Benjamin Grosvenor, Wigmore Hall
Friday 24 June 2011
What Andy Murray is to Wimbledon, Benjamin Grosvenor is to pianism: a bright young British hope. He’s come a long way in his 18 years, with a precocious win in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award being one of the milestones.
He may still be a student at the Royal Academy, but he’s now approaching lift-off. Decca are about to release his debut disc, and on July 15 he will become the youngest-ever soloist in the history of the Proms, when he plays Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto on the opening night.
This Wigmore recital was a taster - but one demanding close attention, as it showed him in a variety of modes. A pair of Scarlatti sonatas made the ideal opener: the writing in the D major sonata Kk96 is symphonic in its splendour, while the D minor Kk434 could almost have been by Chopin. Grosvenor’s one weakness when I heard him last year was a tendency to skate over the keys, rather than digging in: his bounding exuberance with the first sonata suggested that problem is now sorted, and he infused a lovely tenderness into the legato lines of the second.
Then came some ‘Cancons i danses’ by Federico Mompou, miniatures whose poetry he extracted with an unusually sure touch. The songs and dances were Catalan, but the final one had such flamboyance that it made the perfect bridge to the showy Albeniz which followed. ‘Iberia Book 1’ begins with a heavy, sun-drenched languor, moves into a quick ‘polo’ dance, and then catches fire with an evocation of the Corpus Christi celebration in Seville. Grosvenor scrupulously honoured the composer’s markings, and when major virtuosity was called for he delivered it with seeming effortlessness. The piece would have been more dramatic with a sense of distance as the drums approached, but the up-close wildness of the march – marked fffff in the score - could have lifted the roof. And this was a live broadcast for Radio 3: one had to admire his cool.
Finally we accompanied Liszt to Aragon with ‘Rhapsodie espagnole’, and with this high-Romantic fantasy Grosvenor brilliantly controlled his effects. The charming encore - an Albeniz tango arranged by Godowski - reminded us that this boy is an entertainer first and last. Things augur well for that Prom.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
These Harry Potter lipsticks are sparking all sorts of controversy with Hogwarts fans
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Hunted: Channel 4 to test 'surveillance Britain' by taking Big Brother to sinister new lengths
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs