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Homages awarded Diapason d'Or

Diapason has awarded Benjamin's latest album his third Diapason d'Or. The coveted prize is awarded monthly by the editors of the magazine, who hailed Homages as "a superlative tribute to the art of the piano". They also applaud the choice of repertoire featured in the CD, noting that "Benjamin Grosvenor has the artistry (and the patience and courage) to assemble ingenious and multi-coloured programs that zigzag between styles and emotions".

Read the full review below (translation by Evren Ozel and Sophie Malik)

"We know from his previous album, a sequence of “Dances” already recognized by a Diapasor d’Or, that Benjamin Grosvenor has the artistry (and the patience and courage) to assemble ingenious and multi-coloured programs that zigzag between styles and emotions. Programs that he tests and refashions in concert well in advance of the studio. Based on the Bach and Busoni Chaconne, he firstly imagines a dialogue between the Baroque and the Romantic, which is superseded by something less dialectic on paper, but perfect in the hearing.

On the foundations left by Bach, Ferruccio Busoni constructed a spectacular gothic cathedral. That’s the image that comes to mind when one listens to the expansive interpretation (14 minutes) that opens the album. Numerous elements allow you to extend the metaphor: a feeling of lightness despite the imposing scope of structure; 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 respectively similar to the smile of the Virgin Mary or to the clamour of great organs. This phenomenal score permits imaginative pianists to construct a world! Benjamin Grosvenor's way is highly articulate and grandiloquent, rendering a flaming vision.

The whole recital is charged with Romantic élan. Eloquent velocity in Mendelssohn’s Fugue No. 5, in which fragments of musical motifs slip in and out, a bit like in certain interpretations of the finale from Chopin’s ‘Funeral March’ Sonata. Flexibility in a rather turbulent Barcarolle – the pianist evokes a picture of Venice closer to the style of Turner than Canaletto. Softness and vigour in Franck’s Prelude, Choral and Fugue, to highlight the contrasts between anxiety and hope. Impressionistic colours and nostalgic reveries, finally, in Liszt’s Venezia e Napoli.

The distinct character that Grosvenor affords each piece allows itself to be subtly realised. His pianistic ingenuity, his lyrical voice and aristocratic distinction, remind one of the young Josef Hofmann or Ignaz Friedman. “Homages”? A thrown-together title to headline a program in which each piece is inspired by ideas or material that had preceded it. Yet the perfect title: a superlative tribute to the art of the piano."

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