Photo: Decca/Sophie Wright
"The Englishman Benjamin Grosvenor excellently complements [the three soloists of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra - concertmaster Raphael Christ on violin, voice guides Raphael Sachs and Jens Peter Maintz on viola and cello], creating forty minutes of pure passion. The work has density, tension and intensity. But also humour, suspension and spirit. The fiery final movement is a rollercoaster of emotions"
- Luzerner Zeitung, October 2019
"Finishing the concert with Liszt’s ‘showman’ work Réminiscences de Norma, Grosvenor was able to show off his classy playing and his total command of the instrument. The grand gestures in the runs and the expressiveness of the legato sections created full orchestral textures worthy of mention … Grosvenor’s technical prowess over the piano was the highlight of this concert.”
- Classicalexburns, October 2019
"... one can only be transported by this marvel of sensitivity, in which the playing of Benjamin Grosvenor, one of the greatest young pianists in the world, sparked a thousand fires."
- L'Est Républicain, September 2019
"The sound is naturally beautiful, everything is flexible, nuanced and colorful with art [in Schumann's Blumenstück]. A simple and uncomplicated gift. He then approaches the Kreisleriana (R. Schumann) as a supreme musician highlighting Schumann's genius as renewed. Listening to it, I often thought that I had never heard it sound so beautiful. A Schumann filled with elegance and delicate musical images diffusing without violence, without pain, and without effort its rich imagination ... The English pianist has a kind of aristocratic elegance that nothing can disturb."
- Culture 31, August 2019
“Grosvenor is, at just twenty-seven years old, a master of the keyboard and the effects that he can and wants to draw from it: a dreamlike sound, imperial articulation, a sense of legato, a perfect balance…”
- ResMusica, August 2019
“Romanticism here found its full expression and Benjamin Grosvenor reflected these stirrings of the soul, passion and impulses … [Grosvenor displays] not only an unthinkable technical virtuosity, but the very essence of opera, dancing between fragility and passion, touching the sublime, with tragic grandeur and stylistic acrobatics.”
- Zibeline, August 2019
"Grosvenor delivered with aplomb the dexterity and power required for the rapid triplets in the opening passage and gave a deep and reflective reading of the noble recurring theme. Throughout, he demonstrated superb pianistic control, brio and brilliance when required yet quite without flamboyance.
The recital concluded with Liszt's barnstorming Reminiscences de Norma (Bellini). It is a showpiece designed for the best pianists and Grosvenor delivered it with consummate skill and elan. The melodies rang out with crystalline clarity, the repeated thundering octaves never faltered and the stirring climax melted into a tumultuous and deserved ovation."
- East Anglian Daily Times, August 2019
"Benjamin Grosvenor leads with impeccable virtuosity, revealing a perfect homogeneity from the quartet..."
- ResMusica, July 2019
"The British Benjamin Grosvenor, who joins them in the Piano Quintet, shows the same concern for clarity without drying out the sound, and gives weight to the notes without weighing them down"
- Les Echos Week-end, July 2019
"Grosvenor is a born storyteller in his music-making and in the opening of the second number he drew melodies from the inner textures with superb naturalness, while the mock pomposity of the third’s opening was vividly etched. There was balm too, in the rapt numbers, such as 4 and 6. The fugato writing of No. 7 was given with true panache and in the flitting finale delicacy and ardency went hand in hand. If the first half was impressive, the second was truly exceptional ... The challenge is to bring to life Janacek’s stuttering rhythms and make them sound innate. Grosvenor did this to perfection, conveying the work’s obsessive qualities without ever becoming clangorous, and in “Death” he revealed folk-elements I’d never previously heard.
His selection of 12 of Prokofiev’s shard-like Visions fugitives proved the perfect follow-on. They were sensitively put together, from the grave opening piece via the puckish No. 3 and the sheer delicacy of Nos 8 and 9, to the crazed virtuosity of No. 14, ending with the plaintive No. 16.
Grosvenor approached Liszt’s mighty Réminiscences de Norma de Bellini with a gratifying seriousness of purpose, despatching the filigree with which Liszt coloured Bellini’s sublime melodies with complete naturalness, while also relishing the sense of impending tragedy of the opera itself. The overall effect was magnificent."
- The Financial Times, May 2019
"... Grosvenor is blessed with an imagination and unaffected candour that get straight to the mindset of whatever music he is playing. He radiates that vital aspect of the recreative artist – that by being the music’s servant he becomes its master, at which point the listener then has to deal with that most unknowable of artistic gifts, grace, which Grosvenor communicates without a shred of self-consciousness. It goes without saying that he has a fabulously developed and practical technique, the results of which are as much a joy to watch as to hear, from the grandest, powerhouse muscularity to the most carefully considered inflections of weight and timbre. Every time I hear this remarkable musician, I wonder if it is possible for him to sustain this calibre of insight and identification, and, on the strength of this Barbican Hall recital, it sure is.
Grosvenor really got into his romantic stride in Kreisleriana ... His turning between extremes of introversion and extraversion was sheer wizardry, and the way his sound relies more on substance than mere volume defined the climactic moments – in short, Grosvenor got to the poetic heart of Kreisleriana’s fantasy of secrecy and high spirits.
Grosvenor played twelve of the twenty brief pieces [Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives], giving each one its moment of fleeting glory, from limpid intimacy to mystical reticence and on to eruptive optimism. The distance between these transitory visions and the grandiloquent rhetoric of Liszt’s Réminiscences de Norma could hardly be greater, and here Grosvenor left us in no doubt that virtuosity is its own reward. His playing was stupendous with any number of gasp-inducing events of transcendental pianistic heroism"
- Classical Source (*****), May 2019
"The touching, open-hearted directness of Schumann’s Blumenstück is an unusual way to begin, yet seemed ideal here. Grosvenor is blessed with a tone that remains luminous even under the Barbican’s frustrating acoustic, and a clarity of touch and texture that suggests an acute ear, able to manage and manipulate the complexities of music and hall alike.
[In Janáček’s Sonata 1.X.1905] Grosvenor never stinted on emotional intensity, yet paced its progress wisely through the keening laments and shudders of the opening movement to the heights of despair at the climax of the second, at which point the piano’s overtones seem to carry us inside a row of tolling funeral bells. Grosvenor here created sonorities that were massive and overwhelmingly tragic in atmosphere without being harsh, drawing them out of the piano rather than battering them in.
[Liszt’s Réminiscences de Norma] ... Virtuosity, indeed; but this was the concept at its classiest, with colours worthy of a full orchestra soaring out of Liszt’s transformation of Bellini’s processional choruses and bel canto arias. Grosvenor filled the garlands of fioritura with subtle details of phrasing and touch - for instance, flickering nonchalantly from legato to delicate staccato halfway down a run. This is the epitome of a certain type of grand old-school delivery – and such is Grosvenor’s utter command of the instrument, the sheer finesse of the motor control from brain to hand to soundwaves"
- The Arts Desk (*****), May 2019
"Grosvenor may be only 26, but he played with an old-world elegance and style. In some ways, the best playing of the evening came at the very beginning, with Schumann’s Blumenstück (Flower Piece). Here the same handful of delicate melodies keep coming round in a way that could easily pall, and the temptation is to vary them in supposedly interesting ways. Grosvenor didn’t need to, because his way of shaping each melody and floating it over the accompaniment was so limpid and pure it needed no variety. I could happily have listened to them 10 times over.
The contrast with the beginning of Schumann’s Kreisleriana, which leaps into being as if a dangerously demonic spirit has been uncaged, couldn’t have been greater. In Grosvenor’s hands, each episode in this piece passed before us with maximum vividness, like scenes in a magic-lantern show, but it was the tender episodes, taken with unusual slowness, that lingered in the mind.
In Schumann’s piece, the stormy feelings spring from fantasy; in Leoš Janáček’s Piano Sonata 1.X.1905 (Street Scene) they’re based on something all too real, the killing of a Czech student during a demonstration in Brno. Grosvenor caught that essential change, summoning a tone of intense tragic despair. Then, in Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives, he carried us back with light-fingered delicacy to an imaginary world of half-lights, with sarcastic little waltzes next to almost too-sweet lullabies.
There was only one thing so far lacking to make this a thoroughly satisfying recital: a piece of barnstorming virtuosity. Grosvenor duly offered it, in the form of the greatest of Liszt’s reworkings of operatic melodies, the one based on Bellini’s Norma. As throughout the evening, Grosvenor’s perfect control never deserted him, even at moments when the piece was at its wildest."
- The Telegraph (*****), May 2019
"Concluding with a furiously played Argentinian Dance by Alberto Ginastera, Benjamin Grosvenor swept the ardent, enthusiastic audience from the Herkulessaal. Even before this final encore, the young pianist had shown why he has long been hailed as one of the world's finest in his field: his astounding technical gifts, the freshness of his imagination, his intense concentration, the absence of any kind of show, and the unmistakable sense of poetic immersion directed solely at the realization of music.
This began with the first notes of Robert Schumann's Blumenstück Op. 19, with which Grosvenor irresistibly led into the always differently illuminated subject matter, backdrop and twists and turns of this piece. The enchantment was so compelling that it was followed by a pause of absolute silence before Schumann's Kreisleriana Op.16, this singular world of evanescent masks, characters and figures. Grosvenor intensified the volatile, rhythmically taut sections as unmistakably as he lingered in the pensive parts without ever becoming sentimental. He articulated Schumann's Bach-like passion and never lost sight of it in this diverse dream world. A magnificent presentation of this profound work.
After the break, he immersed Leoš Janáček's 1905 Sonata in a rich melancholy that never grew thick or sticky. With Sergei Prokofiev's "Visions fugitives" he let dance again fantastical puppets and figures, at times as if flurrying by, at others with their contours drawn in sharp relief. In the end, Grosvenor swept open the curtain of grand opera as he presented Franz Liszt's "Réminiscences de Norma" after Bellini as a great accomplishment for piano. Fiery virtuosity, the splendour of the cantilena and impassioned forward momentum knocked all from their seats. But even here, in all the thunder or filigree revelry, Grosvenor impressed with measure, taste and buoyant grandeur, which so undoubtedly characterise Liszt's music. It's high time that all the directors of Munich bring this phenomenal young musical artist to their orchestras!"
- Der Süddeutschen Zeitung, May 2019
"Grosvenor played [Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1] with a great sensitivity and musical understanding ... his performance was very polished with clean and clear fingering. He endowed the long and demanding phrases with elegance, refinement and class, as well as appropriate dynamic contrasts and enough agility to happily face the rondò of the third movement."
- Codalario, May 2019
"Grosvenor dazzled with an outstanding version [of Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1] in all aspects. The British dispatches the fearsome difficulties, the trepidating octaves, the double and triple trills, the dangerous jumps, with such absolute precision as insulting ease. He does so with a sound of extraordinary beauty throughout the broad dynamic, always wisely graduated. The sad initial entrance is exquisite after the orchestra's overwhelming tutti at the beginning, followed by the sensational octaves in the final episode of the first movement, and the rapt momentum in the final movement, alive and without compromise. His version had all the pianistic grandeur and power that music demands, but also all the elegance and expressive depth that this great score demands."
- Scherzo, April 2019
“… Benjamin Grosvenor’s fine playing was supple, musing, brilliant and simple by turns, with panache at the end that brought cries of ‘Bravo' from the audience.”
- The Strad, May 2019
"Benjamin Grosvenor: Now that is a name to watch. The young pianist presented a rich, almost voluptuous version of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, delineating themes with clean precision embedded in warm waves of luxurious sound. He evoked such an array of color and variety of tone, signaling some of the earliest stirrings of romantic feeling without betraying the concerto’s classical persona. Stutzmann and the orchestra sensitively responded in conversation to every gambit, creating a seamless musical tapestry.Whether brushing the keys as in a whisper in the second movement, or opening the third with an assertive solo voice, Grosvenor demonstrated both deep intellectual understanding and soulful art. We can only hope both guest artists will visit us again, and as soon as possible."
- Broad Street Review, March 2019
"Grosvenor polished every note to a mirror finish. It was signature Grosvenor.
Grosvenor kept his cool, delivering the pyrotechnics cleanly with ease and even subtlety. In some parts where the left hand works on the melody while the right hand adds embellishments, he maintained focus on the melody rather than an excessive display of velocity. Such an elegant interpretation was quite refreshing."
- San Francisco Classical Voice, March 2019
"Grosvenor released his tour de force, his monumental Reminiscences de Norma ... Grosvenor’s realization caught the exquisite craftmanship that condenses seven of the opera’s major themes –- excepting Casta diva –- into an incendiary, flamboyant vehicle requiring the most gifted of piano virtuosos to accomplish. Explosive cadenzas, high-register bravura octaves, a plenitude of crossed hands, evocations of competing pianist Thalberg’s “three-hand” effect, and any number of symphonic declamations made the experience heart-pounding.
Grosvenor’s performance achieved the exalted musicianship that transcends technique, and a thoroughly mesmerized audience gratefully acknowledged his awesome powers."
- Peninsula Reviews, March 2019
"Benjamin Grosvenor, a pianist with unforgettable sensibility, musicality, intelligence and virtuosity ... A dazzling mastery, so musical that it leads us into discovery or rediscovery of the works played. Moreover, the virtuosity of the artist is dazzling; no fuss to impress. But a virtuosity that always serves the interpreted work. And it makes us dream."
- Info-Culture.biz, March 2019
"The pianist’s poetic introspection in the more reflective sections was particularly impressive. At times Grosvenor encompassed the grandeur beneath Schumann’s melodic paths with Chopinesque elegance. Despite a manic tempo, the inner lines of “Sehr rasch” were unusually clean and Grosvenor’s clipped phrasing in the concluding section enlivened the music’s playful tone. This was a young pianist’s view of Schumann and the performance was an utterly convincing interpretation of a keyboard masterpiece."
- South Florida Classical Review, March 2019
"At the piano, 26-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor was perhaps the most exciting British pianist of his generation. On his debut in Bonn, he impressed with his sensitive play, which perfectly conformed to the string sound. "
- General-Anzeiger Bonn, February 2019
"... his refined, poetic playing [in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1], a perfectly applied, dark-veiled tone and fold-upon-fold of decorations, especially effective as they glided briefly into contact with the accompaniment – you could lose yourself for ever at the give-and-take of his rubato and the way he can make Chopin sing."
- Classical Source, February 2019
"Soon Grosvenor’s playing, which has deepened, darkened and matured with the years, seemed to hold the strings in a generous embrace that lifted the entire ensemble towards a whole new kind of stratosphere.
Grosvenor is blessed with an almost operatically open and expressive tone that suits Chopin’s melodies to literal perfection. It was in the "Romanze" slow movement that that extraordinary magic took over, with Grosvenor’s piano singing like Chopin’s first love Konstancja Gładkowska, while the quintet, seemingly blissing out, became wholly as one in the flow alongside him.
Here [Fauré’s Piano Quintet No 1 in D minor] Grosvenor proved to be an ideal Fauré pianist – effortless waterfalls of notes, shining tone and no nonsense …”
- The Arts Desk, February 2019
"The first half continued with the 2nd piano concerto by Saint-Saëns superbly performed with internationally renowned pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. The first movement opens with a solo piano improvised section rather in the style of a Bach fantasia. Throughout the soloist was commanding with great technique, musicality and spell-binding pianism, especially in the cadenzas, perhaps making the work seem rather greater than might often appear in performance; the BSO flowed along beautifully in-sync. A real treat.”
- The News, Portsmouth, January 2019