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.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Michael Keaton putting his acceptance speech away was the saddest Oscars 2015 moment
Alien 5: Sigourney Weaver will reprise Ripley role in new movie, says director Neill Blomkamp
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit