Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Arr. Ferruccio Busoni (1866 - 1924)
1. Chaconne in D minor, BWV 1004
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847)
Prelude & Fugue in E minor, Op. 35
2. No. 1 - Prelude (Allegro con fuoco)
3. No. 1 - Fugue (Andante espressivo)
Prelude & Fugue in F minor, Op. 35
4. No. 5 - Prelude (Andante lento)
5. No. 5 - Fugue (Allegro con fuoco)
César Franck (1822 - 1890)
Prélude, Choral et Fugue, FWV 21
6. Prelude (Moderato)
7. Choral (Poco più lento)
8. Fugue (Tempo I)
Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)
9.Barcarolle, Op. 60
Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Venezia e Napoli
10. I. Gondoliera (Quasi allegretto)
11. II. Canzone (Lento doloroso)
12. III. Tarantella (Presto)
Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
Le Tombeau de Couperin
13. I. Prélude
14. II. Fugue
15. III. Forlane
16. IV. Rigaudon
17. V. Menuet
18. VI. Toccata
Diapason d'Or - September 2016
Featured New Release
- 98.7 WFMT (Classical Music Radio, Chicago), September 2016
Album of the Week
- NDR Kultur, September 2016
The Inspiration Behind Homages - Decca Music Group, 2016
Album Sampler - Decca Music Group, 2016
Benjamin Grosvenor's fourth album on the Decca Classics label, Homages explores works by great composers paying tribute to their predecessors.
Mendelssohn and Franck look back to the Prelude & Fugue form made so popular by Bach. Busoni takes Bach's great solo violin Chaconne and reinterprets it in a bold and imaginative transcription for piano. Chopin breathes new life into the traditional Barcarolle of Venetian gondoliers, followed ten years later by Liszt's tribute to Italian folk song, Venezia e Napoli.
The digital edition of the album also includes Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, a suite for solo piano in which the composer paid homage to his musical predecessors and the traditional Baroque style.
In The Press
"Benjamin Grosvenor has the art (and the patience and courage) to plan ingenious programmes which offer a multicoloured zig zag between styles and moods ... His pianistic ingenuity, his lyrical voice and aristocratic distinction, remind one of the young Josef Hofmann or Ignaz Friedman. The whole recital is charged with Romantic élan. [In the Bach-Busoni Chaconne] Benjamin Grosvenor's way is highly articulate and grandiloquent, rendering a flaming vision ... a feeling of unity despite the abundance of motifs; infinite fantasy in the ornamentation yet exactitude in the outlining structure; a sonorous framework arranged with distinction, like the overlapping sculptures that adorn doorways; moments of sweetness or of solemnity."
- Diapason, September 2016 (awarded Diapason d'Or)
"...possesses the wonder, the technique, the lofty interpretative heights. At only twenty-four years, Benjamin Grosvenor is a complete artist whose every new album is imbibed like a great vintage ... A fullness of sound which, though not inimical to seduction (witness the nonchalance of the Liszt Tarantella, or the exceptionally stylised rubato, so finely tuned in the Barcarolle), is especially associated with a sense of merging of architecture: the opening theme of the Chaconne is not cast in bronze, but the interpretation follows a taut course to achieve impressive stature ... We love without limit these shimmering colours, that touch of infinite delicacy, a sign of a rare talent."
- Classica Magazine, September 2016
"Every bit as pianistically brilliant as its precedents, showing off his fluid virtuosity, musical sensitivity and fearless approach...The minor-key mood culminates in Franck's Prélude, Choral et Fugue, its central Chorale played with ineffable beauty and religious reverence ... Chopin’s Barcarolle is dispatched with passion, while Liszt's Venezia e Napoli, from Les années de pèlerinage, features magical crystalline playing and delicately drawn colours and atmosphere."
- BBC Music Magazine, November 2016 (selected as Instrumental Choice)
"His mature musical conviction is evident right from the outset of this new CD...The majestic Busoni arrangement of the Bach Chaconne stands comparison with the finest, and the clever inclusion of a couple of Mendelssohn Preludes and Fugues is a master stroke … A great piano recording in all aspects of the word."
- Pianist Magazine, November 2016
“…a precocious maturity is touched by an originality that has shrugged off any debt owed to having been a child prodigy … and immediately recognisable in the sense of freedom with which he wields his undeniable virtuosity … Someone intending not to perceive the vision of the playing might instead notice the asynchrony between the hands with which Grosvenor frees his discourse, a character that he confirms as innate, not the result of artifice, but a mode of execution with which he pursues naturalness, giving transparency to the voices and rendering the harmony all the more poignant.”
- Classical Voice, October 2016
“This recording is vibrant with energy and freshness, also managing to be deliciously free of artificial sounding mannerisms … All of these are fabulous performances, bristling with breathtaking detail and musical élan, brushing aside all questions of technique in favour of that most prized of gifts, supreme clarity of communication. A big draw is of course Busoni’s famous transcription of J.S. Bach’s Chaconne from the violin solo Partita BWV 1004. This can also become a melodramatic tour de force but, without holding back on the impact of such an overwhelming masterpiece, Grosvenor also manages to convey the humanity and monumental sense of suffering built into the work.”
- MusicWeb International, November 2016
“[Benjamin Grosvenor] passed unscathed from the status of the child prodigy to that of the hope of English pianism. Today, at 24, that is a mature reality, as demonstrated by the originality of an interpreter able to assemble and perform a dramatic program evoking the richness of relationships between composers and musical forms.”
- Il Giornale, October 2016
"The artistry of the young English piano Benjamin Grosvenor - a combination of interpretative strong-mindedness and remarkable delicacy of touch - has been the talk of the musical world for several years now ... There's no disputing the potency and eloquence of Grosvenor's execution."
- San Francisco Chronicle, September 2016
"Remarkably, Grosvenor takes the virtuoso fireworks of the Liszt pieces in stride and finds the expressive heart of the music ... [In Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin] Grosvenor again channels his ample technical skills into a revelatory performance."
- Colorado Public Radio Classical, September 2016
"[In the Bach/Busoni Chaconne] Benjamin Grosvenor presents an interpretation age 24 years that is full of majesty and tenderness ... A reference recording on which Benjamin Grosvenor stamps his signature.”
- Musical Romania, Bucharest, September 2016
"The Bach-Busoni Chaconne is wonderfully paced and voiced; the Mendelssohn Preludes and Fugues come with a sense of wonder and respect for Bach; the Franck Prelude, choral and fugue has just the right freedom and fantasy; and Liszt in Venice and Naples makes a compelling tour guide ... There's the same sense of easy virtuosity we've admired from Grosvenor here before; a rubato and sense of style that seems to recall pianists of another age."
- BBC Radio 3, Record Review, September 2016
"A fabulous representative of the expressive Old School who just happens to be one of our finest younger pianists - about the best around, in my view. A real master of keyboard colour: Benjamin Grosvenor. Magnificent playing."
- BBC Radio 3, Essential Classics, October 2016
"It is an indescribable and almost surreal leap into a cosmology of sounds, each apparent resonance spawning a new sound world."
- Le Devoir, October 2016
"From its first notes, one is struck by the constant capacity of Grosvenor 'to grab'our senses in order to then move us ... This interpretation natuarlly finds its place amongst the reference recordings ... This highly successful disc brings together famous works from different eras. With a lucidity of expression, it transports us to spheres that are hard to leave."
- ResMusica, October 2016
"The programme reveals an overview of Grosvenor's immense talent, which is not driven by effect, but searches principally for richness and allusion. A poet of the keyboard in sum, profoundly gifted, and certainly one of the most exciting to follow today ... How not to be literally spellbound by the singing of the Chopin Barcarolle? Or by the concurrent mythic ecstasy and demonic depths of the Liszt ... Our thanks to Benjamin Grosvenor for opening such doors to the imagination, enabling such sound worlds to be audible and palpable...an immense genius of the keyboard is revealed in this programme."
- Classique News, September 2016
“…Felix Mendelssohn's Preludes and Fugues Op. 35 are played rarely, clearly written in sympathy with Bach yet also innovating further, coming in to the 19th Century, translated into Mendelssohn’s own musical idiom. Grosvenor plays this twofold enterprise with enthusiasm: sometimes deploying serious fugal gestures, at other times releasing swirly Mendelssohnian arpeggios or coupling Bach's art of agility with the playful virtuosity of the young Mendelssohn… [Chaconne] Grosvenor enables the music to play out impressively on different levels. One recognises the underpinning with which Busoni set down his massive work on the Bach original. In doing so, Grosvenor also imparts the sensation of not being seated at a grand piano, but rather at an organ: as if he were striking the mighty bass notes with his feet; as if he could just pull a piccolo stop for the treble; or as if he had to play the middle voices in an almost overlapping legato in order to make them stand out… Frédéric Chopin’s ‘Barcarolle’ is a boat trip across calm waters; a drifting through disparate states of mind. Grosvenor artfully combines all this seamlessly, daring to play with sentimentality; with intuitive feel for haunting accentuation. This is also transmitted to the subsequent ‘Venezia e Napoli’ by Franz Liszt: the postcard idyll is shattered and the ‘Tarantella’ becomes a ‘danse macabre’.”
- NDR Klassik, September 2016 (album selected as “CD of the Week”)
“Deeply musical art of the piano from possibly the most talented pianist of his generation.”
- Lübecker Nachrichten, October 2016
“Benjamin impresses throughout, with his touch, technique, rhythmic energy and contrasts in expression … [In Mendelssohn’s Preludes and Fugues] Grosvenor produces amazing dynamic changes … His interpretation rivals those of Alfred Cortot and Stephen Hough”
- Fine Music Magazine, July 2017
“…a precocious maturity is touched by an originality that has shrugged off any debt owed to having been a child prodigy…and immediately recognizable in the sense of freedom with which he wields his undeniable virtuosity. [Mendelssohn] dispelling that overhang of academicism that has probably left these masterpieces in the shade, Grosvenor reveals the melodic spells as much as the fervour; all romantic; pressing to make wefts of the counterpoint, the F minor Fugue is liberated and ignited with exciting virtuosity. With enveloping breath he moves through the shadows of the great Franck triptych, playing with subtleties of timbre that we find in the Chopin Barcarolle….Someone intending not to perceive the vision of the playing might instead notice the asynchrony between the hands with which Grosvenor frees his discourse, a character that he confirms as innate, not the result of artifice, but a mode of execution with which he pursues naturalness, giving transparency to the voices and rendering the harmony all the more poignant.”
- Classic Voice, October 2016
“He manages to bring together the worlds of Baroque and Romanticism in this great creation. The same mix of poetic sophistication and grand romantic gesture can be found in the remainder of this recital.”
- Klara, October 2016
“[Mendelssohn] one always perceives, between the lines, a very great delicacy of feelings abundant on each page, so much so that one feels sometimes transported in the cosmos, to the very different atmosphere of the Songs Without Words. The young artist never forgets the eminently romantic character of these scores, especially in Franck's triptych, whose prelude may have never been as intimate as here.”
- Crescendo, November 2016
“Despite the very high level and fierce competition among young pianists, the 24 year old Briton Benjamin Grosvenor easily stands out. For the singular combination of musicality and intelligence, spirituality and sentiment. The incredibly demanding program includes compositions by Busoni, Mendelssohn, Franck, Chopin and Liszt, several of which have as their starting points works of Bach. In the case of Grosvenor, the unparalleled craftsmanship is taken for granted. So you can enjoy the great musicality, elegance, the innumerable shades and gradations, as well as the sensitivity of his interpretations.”
- H KAΘHMEPINH, November 2016
“This new recording 'Homages'...by Benjamin Grosvenor is youthful, powerful and profoundly exciting. At age 24 Grosvenor seems already to have conquered everything. Completely unhindered by technical challenges, he probes the alternating quiet and explosive episodes of Romantic works that look to the past for inspiration. Busoni’s arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne from BWV1004 is titanic yet floats soul searchingly through its many still moments. He plays Mendelssohn’s Fugue: Allegro con fuoco from Op.35 No.5 at an impossible speed with unbelievable clarity. Chopin’s Barcarolle in F-sharp Major Op.60 is voiced so superbly that it often sounds like two separate pianos. With selections from Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage, Grosvenor reaches the pinnacle of his Homages to conclude an astonishing program that sets the heart racing.”
- The Whole Note, December 2016
“Busoni’s treatment of JS Bach’s famous Chaconne for solo violin is here played very emphatically and majestically by Grosvenor... Mendelssohn’s tribute to Bach sees vibrant preludes with kaleidoscopic embellishments and grand fugues with admirable ebb and flow, not to mention, architecture. The notoriously tricky Barcarolle is beautifully brought off with just the right swinging rubato... For me, the best came with the download bonus of the six-movement Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin. Grosvenor takes the Prélude at breakneck speed but infuses the rest with the elegant spirit of the 18th century.”
- Limelight magazine, December 2016
“Grosvenor gives a sublime rendition of this gloriously romantic yet spiritual work [Franck]. Homages is cleverly curated and brilliantly performed.”
- Sounds Like Sydney, October 2016
“From the beginning Grosvenor struck me as one of the most promising pianists of his generation, among which I’d also include Yuja Wang, Daniil Trifonov, and Jan Lisiecki—all leaped into contracts with major labels almost as soon as the news of their extraordinary talent leaked out to the general classical music public. Whenever a pianist programs Chopin’s Barcarolle in F♯, I think back to Vladimir Horowitz’s ability to turn a lulling boatman’s song into an ‘erotic tone poem,’ as one critic called it… Happily, Grosvenor senses the same potential in the music, applying added tension and contrast early on, alternating with lyrical gentleness…this is a superb reading, displaying spellbinding touch. Touch serves Grosvenor very well in the three Liszt pieces from Années de pèlerinage, bringing out, for example, the charm and lightness in “Gondoliera.”…Grosvenor’s feathery passagework is displayed beautifully here. The moody Canzonetta, which verges on the Gothic, is phrased with a sure instinct for avoiding the music’s potential to turn into empty clatter. Tarantella features rapid-fire staccato repetitions that Grosvenor handles thrillingly, giving way to scales and arpeggios that exist to awe the audience—I was suitably awed. [Le tombeau de Couperin]…seconds my opinion that Grosvenor’s Ravel is exceptional; besides the Gaspard on his debut album, there was a magical Concerto in G on a follow-up disc in 2012. Jacques-Yves Thibaudet has long been Decca’s in-house French pianist, but listening to his Le tombeau side by side with Grosvenor’s, Thibaudet’s playing is far less scintillating—Grosvenor takes us into a different sound world where magic is achieved through effortless sleight-of-hand. His extraordinary touch (that word again) in the Toccata is incomparable. Sacre bleu, l’anglais triomphe!”
- Fanfare, January/February 2017
“[Chaconne] the exceptional means with which he exploits the acoustic possibilities of the piano to generate fully organ-like sonorities, which, together with a splendid interplay of dynamics and gradation of tempo, allows him to maintain the emotion and the structural unity of the work. He shows an exquisite sense of singing in the two contrasting preludes of Mendelssohn, accompanied by fugues of great transparency, in which formal discipline conveys ample and controlled romantic charge. Completely seductive, the [Franck] Prelude, Chorale and Fugue brings us via eloquent oratory a great atmosphere of tension, full of poetry and emotion with a wide range of colors in the two first movements, to fully and majestically resolve the final fugue.”
- RITMO magazine, December 2016
“Grosvenor is acclaimed as one of the best in a generation of young pianists that includes Yuja Wang and Daniil Trifonov. This pianist has tremendous talent. With the Mendelssohn Preludes and Fugues, his ability to separate voices in the fugues is magical.”
- American Record Guide, January/February 2017
“…an interpretative maturity that goes beyond expectations given his young age accompanied by excellent technique and a pure, crystalline sound. Yet in this album still he manages to outdo himself with invaluable interpretations invoking the concept of ‘homage’….A special mention goes to the two preludes and fugues by Mendelssohn, pieces very seldom heard, and the glorious César Franck…”
- Amadeus, January 2017
“… the wait is gloriously worthwhile: however deeply considered, all these performances sound thrillingly spontaneous. Grosvenor is already a master of grandeur and of the subtlest range of colour and nuance. His pianism is something to marvel at, yet everything is achieved in the service of a poetic vision of rare integrity. His Bach-Busoni, delivered with extraordinary eloquence and command, ranks with the finest accounts on record. Mendelssohn can scarcely have had a more devout or dazzling rendering, and not since Cortot has Franck’s Prelude, Chorale et Fugue been recorded with such fervour and interior magic … At the age of 24, Grosvenor surpasses the transient fame of so many famous competition winners with aristocratic and transcendental ease.”
- International Piano, February 2017
"There’s no disputing the remarkable finish, control and sheer beauty characterising Benjamin Grosvenor’s pianism, and his innate feeling for Busoni’s keyboard idiom is evident throughout the Chaconne (2015). The subtle melodic inflections that he brings out within the staccato octaves and repeated chords, for example, tend to elude other pianists."
- Gramophone Magazine, October 2018