Benjamin Grosvenor gave his first concert as artist-in-residence with Radio France last night, performing Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 with l’Orchestre National de France. The concert marked the opening night of the 2020-2021 season, and Cristian Măcelaru’s first as musical director.
Alain Lompech, Bachtrack: “The princely speech, the authority, the eloquence as imperious as it is elegant, the immaculate playing of the British pianist are worthy of the composer himself as of Benno Moiseiwitsch … His virtuosity, his pianistic art, his almost Puritan expression, warm but without the slightest sentimentality; he responds to a committed and impeccable orchestra, led by a conductor who knows how to listen and respond, dialogue.”
Rémy Louis, Diapason: “… a masterful performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 … Conductor and soloist share a grandiose, lyrical, sensitive but never sentimental vision, with Brahmsian reflections. The brilliant British pianist delivered a reading of impressive height and nobility, powerful without being supported, and delved into detail (breaths, contrasts, articulations). His way of sculpting each phrase irresistibly evokes the simplicity of Rachmaninov himself."
Emmanuel Krivine, La Croix: “Simple and modest in appearance, both focused on his keyboard and attentive to his colleagues in the orchestra, the virtuoso appeared natural and at ease in Rachmaninov’s formidable 2nd Concerto. It would take a whole dictionary of oxymorons to list the qualities of his game: natural and controlled, loose and deep, powerful and refined, synthetic and detailed.”
Julien Bordas, Classic Agenda: "Attentive to the overall coherence, turning frequently to the orchestra, and showing an unfailing speed, the British pianist left his mark on this concert … [Măcelaru] offered direction without pomposity, and conveyed nuances with sensitivity. The third movement confirmed the synergy between the protagonists, Grosvenor forming one body with the Orchestre national de France until the final, triumphant coda.”
Jean Pierre Rousseau: “Placed on the first balcony, overlooking the piano and the pianist, I was able to appreciate the extraordinary mastery of the performer on his keyboard. And I heard this "hit" as I like to hear it: poetic, with a virtuosity that never comes before expression, the pianist in harmony with the orchestra”