It seems incredible to me that pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is only thirty this year, and that’s its 18 year since his BBC Young Musician appearance.
This year has seen him artist in residence at Wigmore Hall building on a growing collection of recordings for Decca. He’s packed a lot in to a short space of time and it seems handled the pressure well.
There is maturity that has developed in his sound that builds on his early established calling card (see later in the post for an explanation). He does theatre at the keyboard without breaking a sweat. A remarkable sight.
In recital Grosvenor is an assertive player, drawing on remarkable reserves of power at a moments notice, helping him create epic dramatic contrasts whenever the score dictates. He conjures up a symphonic sound at the keyboard, contrasting vast sound worlds with tender moments that linger and occasions haunt. This ability to shift gear at a moments is one of the things that makes Grosvenor’s playing so very exciting, evident in Schumann’s Kreisleriana.
Albeniz’s Iberia has a more compelling musical story, making the first work of the second half perhaps the more satisfying listen.
Benjamin Grosvenor also has a trademark. I picked it out the first time I heard (sat in the gallery at the BBC Proms maybe fifteen years back) and it was on full display reliable and consistent as ever in Ravel’s Jeux l’eau and La Valse. In both pieces it is the fluidity in his scales snd arpeggios that really take my breath away. They’re smooth, dynamic, and supple. Musical acrobatics.
All this whilst maintaining a mild-mannered physicality at the keyboard. Perhaps the oddest thing is the way when he playing at his most expansive, his music makes me smile with pride as though I’ve somehow created myself.
A top night at Wigmore Hall.