Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
1. I. Allegro maestoso
2. II. Romance. Larghetto
3. III. Rhondo. Vivace
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21
1. I. Maestoso
2. II. Larghetto
3. III. Allegro vivace
Recording of the Month
- Gramophone Magazine, March 2020
- Diapason, March 2020
Album of the Week
-- The Sunday Times, April 2020
Album of the Day "Le disque du jour”
- France Musique, March 2020
Album of the Week
- RTE Lyric FM
Chopin Concerto No. 2 in F Minor Op. 21 - III. Allegro vivace, Decca Music Group, 2020
Chopin Piano Concertos
Benjamin Grosvenor joins forces with Elim Chan and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for his fifth album on the Decca Classics label.
The recording features Chopin's Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, and marks Benjamin's first orchestral album since his 2012 release Rhapsody in Blue.
In The Press
“When Benjamin Grosvenor finally makes his entrance, it proves well worth the wait, and his playing beguiles from the off; as the dynamics sink, his lines are full of poetry but they unfold with utter naturalness. Chan follows his every gesture unerringly — there’s no doubting the musical chemistry at play here. And that brings me to another point: Grosvenor has always balanced his solo career with chamber music-making and it really shows … But he’s not afraid to command the stage either.
… Grosvenor is master of the sung line, and the way he deals with Chopin’s phantasmagoric ornamentation has a rare inevitability about it … The F minor Second Concerto is every bit as outstanding, with Grosvenor and Chan bringing out not only the work’s songfulness but also making us aware of the inner lines and Chopin’s contrapuntal thinking … [The opening] movement as a whole has many moments of sheerly luminous playing, its innate wistfulness beautifully brought out.
The finale comes as a delicious balance of extroversion with playfulness Grosvenor’s virtuosity always at the service of the music … It’s the kind of disc that makes you rethink these works and appreciate them all over again. And lets hope that this is the start of a wonderful recording partnership with Elim Chan.”
- Gramophone Magazine (Recording of the Month)
“With an extravagant vitality, the young English musician delivers an interpretation which upsets the plethoric discography … The pianist seems to reinvent the score at every moment, not hesitating to shake up the tempos, playing with unreal precision and lightness. A disarming simplicity - and all the more moving - is expressed in all the singing passages … So much ease, so much nobility impresses us and reminds us of Byron Janis, in his princely, unpredictable and airy gait. The delicacies of the slow movements have an incredible charm, and the finales, more lively than ever, display an insane, madly winged verve. A version to rank among the best, and confirmation of an extraordinary artist.”
- Diapason (Awarded Diapason D’Or)
“There’s pianism of historic caliber on this release, and another mark of Mr. Grosvenor’s breathtaking maturity, even though he is still in his 20s. Summoning playing of pure poetry, he lavishes on these concertos all his lauded sensitivity, innate sense of pace and effortless way with phrasing. He’s matched bar for bar by Ms. Chan, an impressive young conductor who makes an occasion of orchestral writing that in other hands sounds routine.”
- The New York Times
“Surely the most successful British pianist of his generation, and uncommonly introspective too … he has already lived with these works for long enough to strike a balance between thoughtfulness and youthful spontaneity … Grosvenor is most successful of all in the second and third movements of the E minor Concerto, where he captures the music’s dreamy introspection and brilliant lightness.”
- BBC Music Magazine
“The tuttis are wonderfully sculpted by Elim Chan; Chopin’s lost soul is carried high by [Grosvenor's] amazing playing, combining raw passion and clarity of sight. This formidable duo, alongside the Royal National Orchestra of Scotland, unveil a kaleidoscope of expressions where each phrasing, every detail is highlighted. For music lovers accustomed to the imposing vision of Zimerman in the First Concerto, the rare energy delivered by the performers will surprise as well as seduce. Turbulent phrases, carried away by an irrepressible force, soften before the sublime Larghetto of the Second Concerto. Let’s not forget that Chopin was only twenty years old when he wrote these works; the thirst for life has never been more evident.”
- Pianiste Magazine (France)
“Since bursting on the scene as a child prodigy, Benjamin Grosvenor has established himself as the most exciting and accomplished British pianist of his generation ... under the fingers of Grosvenor backed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra the two [Chopin] concertos are glittering and achingly lovely, fully-formed masterpieces ... His technique shows great clarity and technical ease. His touch is light and there is an innate artistry, taste and thoughtfulness in his playing. Still only 27, there is no telling what new heights he may scale. This is certainly a beautiful and impressive survey of Chopin’s two masterworks.”
- Limelight Magazine
“Benjamin Grosvenor has established himself as the most exciting and accomplished British pianist of his generation ... under the fingers of Grosvenor backed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra the two [Chopin] concertos are glittering and achingly lovely, fully-formed masterpieces … [Grosvenor’s] technique shows great clarity and technical ease. His touch is light and there is an innate artistry, taste and thoughtfulness in his playing. Still only 27, there is no telling what new heights he may scale. This is certainly a beautiful and impressive survey of Chopin’s two masterworks.”
- The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
“The 27-year-old pianist joins some of the instrument’s most famous names with his first recording of Chopin’s concertos. Technically he has nothing to fear from comparisons with Argerich, Pires or Zimerman, and this is a young man’s music; Chopin wrote Op 11 when he was only 19, and Op 21 a year later. Grosvenor claims an affinity with the composer from his childhood, but has waited to commit these pieces to posterity: it shows in his rapt accounts of the slow movements, declarations of Chopin’s love for the singer Konstancja Gladkowska. He embellishes the melodic line exquisitely, giving the lyrical interludes in the bravura outer movements a singing cantabile and limpid tone. Chan, the first female winner of the Donatella Flick prize, and the RSNO are willing accomplices, matching Grosvenor’s patrician musicianship with panache and style.”
- The Sunday Times (Album of the Week)
“Benjamin Grosvenor is the real deal … emotional volatility is so characteristic of Chopin, and Grosvenor always keeps it in mind. That, plus the warm and vivid recorded sound (and Elim Chan’s sympathetic conducting of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra) make this recording the one to go for."
- The Telegraph
"Chopin. No classical pianist with a recording contract can ignore him for long. Benjamin Grosvenor — young, British, very gifted — recorded some pieces in 2011 when a student, but it has taken time for a whole album of the Romantic composer. His repertoire is the two concertos, exactly that being promoted by the pianist now known as Yundi — not quite so young, Chinese, gifted — who made his reputation with Chopin 20 years ago.
Grosvenor’s playing is thoughtful and fresh, with flecks of rubato, quizzical pauses and tumbling, fast-fingered runs. They help to bring spontaneity to concertos that, despite their beauties, need assistance to fully come alive. He is especially winning in spinning the lightly melancholic reverie of the first concerto’s larghetto.”
- The Times
“In this new album, the young virtuoso brings shimmering playing and a touch of wizardry … He has cited magicians of the keyboard like Vladimir Horowitz, Alfred Cortot and Shura Cherkassky as pianists that he likes to listen to, and he dispenses a touch of their wizardry himself. Each of those titans brought particular spontaneity to the music of Chopin, and Grosvenor follows in their footsteps. These recordings of the two piano concertos, made in Glasgow with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under conductor Elim Chan, are lit up by the flashes of enchantment that we have come to expect from him. The outline of the performances is firm, purposeful, quite swift. Within this, though, Grosvenor creates space for the kind of shimmering, pearly playing at which he excels, opening a window each time on Chopin’s poetry. The slow movements are especially fine. From the glinting chords that drop like ice crystals near the end of the First Concerto’s Romance, the movement closes in a wonderfully rapt and concentrated atmosphere. The Second Concerto’s Larghetto feels no less elevated in its closing pages. Recordings of the Chopin concertos are a crowded field, even among pianists of Benjamin’s generation, but he has staked out his claim with a pair of performances true to his own brand of artistry.”
- The Financial Times
"The 27-year-old pianist proves that he is more than a child prodigy. He possesses a superior soul which turns everything he touches into gold with infinite accuracy. His Chopin concertos are jewels.”
- Classica Magazine
“Grosvenor fascinates us throughout these two scores … he emphasises poetry and naturalness with his tone and intensity”
- Crescendo Magazine
“… Elim Chan throws herself into this soundworld with great éclat. She pumps up the brass, lets the woodwind soloists shine, and keeps things crisp and springy. There’s a real sense of communication and empathy between her and Benjamin Grosvenor, too, and she’s alive to every turn of his phrasing and every well-judged rubato. Grosvenor does a fine job, emphasizing energy and virtuosity over introspection … there’s plenty to enjoy in his quick tempi and firecracker passagework.”
- Pianist Magazine
“Familiar with the work of the Polish composer, the young virtuoso pianist offers an interpretation of exceptional sensitivity …Child prodigies sometimes become wonderfully gifted young adults. The 27-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor not only has a true talent, but also a lot of ideas … [Grosvenor] dazzles from his first entry by his technical mastery ... a marvel of fluidity and lightness, but also density and expressiveness in slow, meditative and overwhelming movements. This piano sings constantly, and Grosvenor knows how to dance with the orchestra.”
- Télérama Magazine
“[Grosvenor] deploys a superb eloquence in the two slow, central movements, the most intimate, in this revealing of the fighting thoughts of nostalgic Chopin. We dream with Grosvenor of the beauty of the soprano Konstance Gladkowska who bewitched [Chopin] and whose image inspires all the Larghetto"
- Classique News
“… Grosvenor plays with clarity of sentiment … Grosvenor is at his strongest in captivating both the warmth and tenderness but also straying into the shadows when called for … The sound of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is flawless, with a particularly fine wind section … Chan ensures soloist and orchestra are one throughout.”
- The Classic Review
"Grosvenor’s instinct for the pacing and phrasing of Chopin’s melodic lines, and his way with the decorations and tempo fluctuations is impressive in its naturalness. The unforced manner in which he lifts the music from the page is sympathetically matched by [Elim] Chan and the orchestra."
- BBC Radio 3, Record Review
"The E minor Concerto opens in a wash of summery radiance, the strings superheated and heartfelt, from which the woodwind solos emerge soulfully, followed by a first triumphant flourish from Grosvenor, releasing floods of effortless poetic diversion. Beyond that the enchanting timelessness of the Romance, the closing Rondo’s virile playfulness, and the dazzling virtuosity of the F minor Concerto unfold with breathtaking rapture. … [Chan] and Grosvenor play entirely to the music’s natural strengths."
- The Scotsman
“Benjamin Grosvenor’s playing is naturally fluid and very poetic, with wonderful vocal lines, but at the same time also immensely imaginative. Even when the music is more powerful, the sound produced by the young Brit is always delicate and beautiful, sometimes bell-like, which brightly decorates his playing. In general, Grosvenor’s interpretations in both concertos can be described as very luminous. The slow movement in the Second Concerto is filigree and light, with the finest dynamic and colourful nuances, which Elim Chan follows with the greatest attention. The perfectly balanced sound recording contributes much to the good impression of these top-notch interpretations.”
“Grosvenor has proven to be one of the most talented pianists of his generation and one of the brightest born in the British Isles … His musical sensitivity has been demonstrated in his previous works for the Universal label, and again in these two Chopin performances … Grosvenor presents with careful and delicate fingering the wide filigree and melodic soliloquies of the Polish composer, displaying with charm, elegance and distinction those long and lilting cantabile lines. His virtuosity has the precise touch of urgency, which without being explosive, has measured and extremely balanced passionate outbursts … by means of discreet accompaniment [Elim Chan] gives all the prominence to Grosvenor, in readings of extreme lightness and orchestral agility… This is undoubtedly a new record reference to Chopin's concerts, which breathes freshness and arouses great interest both in [Grosvenor’s] consolidated technique and expressive result.”
- Opera World
“The rapport between Grosvenor and his conductor, Elim Chan, is little short of miraculous; the performances are a breath of fresh air.”
- Classical Explorer