Grosvenor plays Faure, Ravel, Schumann and Albeniz at Wigmore Hall

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.

Benjamin Grosvenor and Hyeyoon Park return with the second Beckenham and Bromley Festival

This is a little niche and perhaps bordering on the hyper-local for regular readers of the Thoroughly Good Blog, but it wouldn’t be Thoroughly Good if I didn’t highlight something happening on my own patch here in South East London, a tantalising 10-minute bike ride away from me here in Hither Green: the second Beckenham and Bromley Festival is scheduled for 17th – 19th September 2021.

The Bromley & Beckenham International Music Festival will this year stage four concerts at Bromley Parish Church, St Peter and St Paul’s Church.

Artistic Directors and Bromley residents Benjamin Grosvenor and Hyeyoon Park (this brings my tally of classical music talent on my doorstep to a mind-boggling ten people) founded the festival with festival director Raja Halder, putting on four concerts and raising £4200 for a local hospice too.

Watch Hyeyoon Park and Timothy Ridout perform Martinu’s Three Madrigals in the Beckenham and Bromley International Festival 2020

This year violist Timothy Ridout and cellist Bartholomew LaFollette return, plus there’s a festival debut from BBC Young Musician winner Laura van der Heijden. Concert programmes will include Rachmaninoff’s Trio Élégiaque No.2, Schubert’s Trio No.2 in E-flat and Britten’s Lachrymae, one of the 20th century’s greatest works for viola and piano, and the festival finale including Brahms’ titanic Piano Quintet.

The festival will also feature Joseph Tawadros in a programme of his own original music. Born in Cairo and raised in Sydney, Tawadros is a multi-award winning composer, improviser and champion of his extraordinary instrument, the Oud. His music draws on Arabic traditions combining it with western classical, jazz, world, folk, metal and bluegrass. 

Joseph Tawdross

Free tickets for under-12s and a fiver for under-21s. Everyone else, £22. Not bad.

To book tickets and get directions to St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Bromley, visit the Beckenham and Bromley International Festival website.