Gig review: Benjamin Grosvenor, Perth

Grosvenor's fluid presentation worked remarkably well. Picture: Facebook
Grosvenor's fluid presentation worked remarkably well. Picture: Facebook
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Benjamin Grosvenor first made headlines as the diminutive 12-year-old piano finalist in the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. Since then, he has been through the Royal Academy of Music, grown several feet taller, and sounds like a musician with a significant career ahead of him.

Benjamin Grosvenor - Perth Concert Hall

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He was the second recitalist in Perth’s increasingly popular Sunday piano series, offering a programme that was baffling on paper – seven composers from Schubert to Medtner – but which, largely through Grosvenor’s fluid presentation, worked remarkably well in practice. It was an approach that threw an interesting perspective on Schumann’s extensive, but seldom played, Humoreske in B flat. As the end point of the first half, and following the crisp agility of Mendelssohn’s Andante and Rondo capriccioso and the sublime lyricism of Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat, Grosvenor’s reading of Schumann’s psychological dialogue was cool, intelligent and calculated. At the heart of this performance, as with the entirety of the programme, it was that element of accuracy and poise, that super-sensitivity and bell-like clarity of Grosvenor’s tone production, that charmed us most.

It was there again, colouring Spanish composer Frederic Mompou’s Debussyesque Paisajes, Medtner’s Russian-scented Fairy Tales and Ravel’s Valse nobles et sentimentales with acute definition of mood.

What Grosvenor’s playing lacks at the moment is genuine power, literally putting his back into the music. That’s what Liszt’s Valse de l’opera Faust (a paraphrase on Gounod’s opera), and to some extent the Ravel waltzes, lacked. Otherwise, a pianist to watch.