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Benjamin Grosvenor, Prodigy Grown Up

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Charles T. Downey, Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor offers depth at Kennedy Center
Washington Post, March 5, 2012

available at Amazon
Chopin / Liszt / Ravel, B. Grosvenor

(released on February 28, 2012)
Decca 478 3206 | 75'15"

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This and That (encore pieces),
B. Grosvenor
(2011, MP3)
When Benjamin Grosvenor won the keyboard award at the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2004, he was all of 11 years old. Grosvenor has gone on to give recitals and concerto appearances, and he had the distinction of opening the Proms in London last summer. Local listeners had their chance to hear him Saturday afternoon, when he became one of the youngest performers on Washington Performing Arts Society’s Hayes Piano Series, at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

It was a prodigious debut, marked in equal parts by Grosvenor’s outstanding technical accomplishment and his interpretive depth. One could quibble about his approach, but he had strong ideas and he stuck to them. Bach’s Fourth Partita was exhilarating in the fast movements, especially the rushed contrapuntal section of the overture and a precise, even fussy gigue. The allemande oozed along, with a heavy foot on the pedal and little wisps of pastel in the fast-note decoration, while the sarabande did not seem as slow.

Chopin’s Third Sonata seemed the most empty, the vivacious scherzo movement produced as if on a demonic player piano with the tempo dial at maximum but lacking a luscious legato touch in the largo. Scriabin’s Second Sonata had much the same sound, just on a smaller scale, and a Rachmaninoff set showed Grosvenor’s theatrical side, in the dazzling triplet chords of the Op. 39, No. 5 etude-tableau; the tooth-rotting treacle of “Lilacs”; and the circus-act dazzle of “Polka de W. R.” [Continue reading]
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Washington Performing Arts Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

Other performances of Bach's Partita No. 4: Murray Perahia, András Schiff, Glenn Gould, Grigory Sokolov -- Perahia is my favorite in the fast movements, so clean and unmannered, but Schiff wins in the Sarabande, for capturing its enigmatic nature without overdoing it, especially how he pedals the little flourish in the second measure of each section, making this little misty cloud of harmony hanging in the air; Schiff also wins in the Menuet movement

Dorothy Hindman, Teen pianist Grosvenor requires artistic seasoning (South Florida Classical Review, March 2)

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