Sold out recital of Benjamin Grosvenor at St Johns Smith Square tonight.
An impeccable Mozart Sonata in B flat was strangely followed by a rather disjointed performance of Chopin`s Funeral March Sonata in which the blurred lines of a super veloce last movement were only matched by the continual tempo changes in the first. This led to an uneven performance in which the nobility and majesty of this, one of Chopin`s masterpieces were not given their full due.
It was a different pianist that stepped out on to the platform for the second half of this justly sold out recital. A sumptuous performance of Scriabin`s Sonata Fantasie in G sharp minor full of subtle colours,half lights and delicacy mingled with the most passionate outpourings .There was no doubt we were now listening to a master. And masterly performances were to abound in this remarkable second half. Two pieces from Goyescas by Granados full of subtle charm and wit and notes just thrown off with an easy elegance and jeux perle` reminiscent of the virtuosi of the “Golden Age”of piano playing. If Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody did not have the majesty or frenzied primitive forward drive of Gilel’s memorable performance in the RFH many years ago that had us sitting on the edge of our seats, it was,however, for a young man still only in his twenties and British to boot , a very remarkable performance.
There was no doubt about his complete technical command of the keyboard in every sense not only funambulistic velocity but something much rarer: a subtle sense of colour and style that one thought was a long lost tradition. The little study in Fminor by Moszkowski played as an encore with that nonchalance and teasing elegance that Horowitz had to perfection.Nothing was missing in the performance tonight even the teasingly long drawn out final notes that were thrown into the audience holding its breath and only to happy to receive them with a joy that can only confirm that there is a new Golden Age of virtuosi and that they are British! .
Having heard also this morning on Radio 3 a performance of Schultz Evler’s Blue Danube and expecting to hear it was Lhevine or Cherkassky but to learn that it was our Benjamin Grosvenor and the other day a teasingly virtuoso transcription of Delibes that was written and played by Stephen Hough .Hats off to these British pianists that are bringing back a long lost tradition from the grand era of the divo virtuoso that one thought long lost in the concert hall and only still reigned in the Opera House.