Benjamin Grosvenor made a welcome return to the BBC Proms last night, performing Shostakovich’s First Piano Concerto with Principal Trumpet Jason Evans and a socially distanced Philharmonia orchestra, conducted by Paavo Järvi.
Orchestra and soloists performed to an empty Royal Albert Hall, but the performance was broadcast live on BBC iPlayer and BBC Radio 3.
Richard Morrison, The Times:
“…in this brilliantly energised performance led by Benjamin Grosvenor on piano and the equally virtuosic Jason Evans on trumpet, everything — the anger, the neurotic drive, the bleakness at the heart of the middle movement — seemed to make a kind of sense, even if it was the surreal logic of a nightmare. Grosvenor brought to the party exactly the right sort of steely-toned power, especially in the final cadenza, executed at breakneck speed, while Evans’s intervention in the middle movement was almost bluesy in its projection of loneliness.”
David Karlin, Bachtrack:
“Järvi was blessed with a star soloist for the evening’s concerto in the shape of Benjamin Grosvenor arriving at the keyboard for Shostakovich’s Concerto for piano, trumpet and strings, supported by Jason Evans, the Philharmonia’s principal trumpet, making his Proms debut. I have to stop thinking about Grosvenor as a “young artist”; for several years now, he’s just reached the stage of being a top class musician, irrespective of age … Grosvenor was able to sound gorgeously lyrical and impassioned in the slow second movement but flip in a heartbeat to impish humour or powerful angst, Järvi sculpting the orchestral sound around him and Evans contributing the muted trumpet’s distant complain”
Bernard Hughes, The Arts Desk:
“Benjamin Grosvenor flew through the difficulties of the fast music. He has a high, active finger action and bold sound, relishing the restless, almost manic good humour of the first movement”
Colin Anderson, Classical Source:
“... there was no denying the pianist’s fastidiousness or his shapely phrasing especially during slow(er) music. The Finale, with its humorous diversions and silent-film-music elements, brought some dazzling responses”
Robert Beattie, Seen and Heard:
“Grosvenor’s handling of the cadenza was a high-octane, virtuosotour de forceas we saw his fingers traversing the keys at dizzying speed. Piano, trumpet and strings combined one finaltime in the uproarious coda, driving the work to its thrilling conclusion.”