REVIEW: Benjamin Grosvenor at Wigmore Hall, London
17 October 2013
The Wigmore Hall’s acoustic sometimes constricts pianists with 3000-seater tones – but it shows off Benjamin Grosvenor’s infinitely nuanced sound at its luminous best. Here the 21-year-old British star proved beyond a doubt the pure-gold quality of his sonic imagination and his ability to realise it. He can transport his listeners to new dimensions in a way that this reviewer can compare only to a young Krystian Zimerman – palpable in his sublimely controlled Schubert G flat Impromptu, or Mompou’s sensuous Paisajes, where the voicing reached extraordinary levels of mastery.
Schumann’s Humoresque was a bold choice: a baffling work
that is too rarely performed. Grosvenor rose to all its challenges. Though
notorious for ‘not hanging together’, it cohered brilliantly; he created rapt
atmospheres, kept busy textures airy, yet defined the character of each
episode, his clarity of touch illuminating the intricate contrapuntal writing.
Medtner’s Two Fairytales needed extra earthiness, but never lacked charm; and after a shimmering account of Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, Liszt’s Paraphrase on the Waltz from Gounod’s Faust found Grosvenor swashbuckling with the finest virtuosi, delivering enough schwung to floor every Fledermaus in town. Mendelssohn’s Andante and Rondo Capriccioso was an engaging opener, risking all at quicksilver tempo; the Albeniz/Godowsky Tango made a tasty encore. Once Grosvenor also controls the silences at his conclusions, he’ll get the standing ovations he deserves.