. . . [Grosvenor] is one of our most extraordinary musicians . . . The extraordinary quality, however, is not simply in the dazzling technical accomplishment of that career. Grosvenor has a remarkable feeling for music. His first disc for Decca, released this year, reveals his playing of Liszt, Chopin and Ravel to have the confident subtlety you might expect of someone who had lived for much longer, and seen and felt much more . . .
. . . [a] bright, uplifting album . . .
. . . in an age of ready-made virtuoso, his gifts are already distinctive -- poetic, romantic . . . [Grosvenor's rendition of the "Rhapsody" is] warmly sensuous . . . he certainly shines [in Ravel's Prélude, which is] performed with such headlong momentum that the piece seems like an improvisation . . . this Frenchified pot-pourri gives just about enough pleasure.
. . . [Gershwin: "Rhapsody in blue"]: Grosvenor and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic achieve a fine balance between urban bustle and more reflective passages.
Decca's studio recording sounds remarkably alive compared with the concert performances. The Bachian first movement is fluid and sufficiently relaxed without being pulled about too much, the lightly tripping second movement a masterly example of control, and the last movement has Grosvenor straight out of the box like a greyhound. What marvellous and uplifting energy! Godowsky's transcription of "The Swan" is exquisite . . . [Ravel]: the concerto is very finely performed by Grosvenor . . . [an] excellent, generously extensive essay [by Jessica Duchen] . . . Grosvenor brings out so much more than that and this recording deserves, I feel, to sit proudly beside Martha Argerich's, and among many other fine performances. James Judd and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic are spot-on playing their part, with sensitive accompanying along the way, shimmering strings in the Saint-Saëns, chamber-music style answering by the wind, warmth in the Ravel, and all with that magic touch of spontaneity. The introduction to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" . . . Grosvenor doesn't hesitate to be reflective when needed, and he pulls out the stops for the more wildly acrobatic parts . . . The excellent percussion are well caught. The recording quality is very good, intimate, fairly close-in without being claustrophobic, and isn't terrifically wide or deep. The tone of Grosvenor's Steinway Model D is very well captured, with sufficient acoustic of the location to let it sing . . . an excellent recording.
The character of the playing is alert to style in all three concertos, the RLPO contributing colour and verve, Grosvenor combining his familiar strength, rhythmic impulse, virtuosity and discretion with interpretative freshness and finesse.
. . . [Saint-Saëns]: Grosvenor and his partners . . . stand up well to comparisons with Rubinstein's recording . . . a real talent . . .
I can only concur with other critics who hear in his tone and phrasing echoes of a golden age, and that he should count Alfred Cortot and Benno Moiseiwitsch among his idols comes as no surprise: there is the same spaciousness within rhythmic control and the same bell-like sound. For me, his playing of the Godowsky version of Saint-Saens's "Swan" is a high point, with its apparently effortless distinction between the many filigree lines and its aristocratic elegance. At the other extreme, Gershwin's "Rhapsody" is blue among many other colours. A champagne disc -- fizz and finesse.
. . . one of the most dazzling records to have come my way for many years. In Saint-Saens's Second he opens with a rhetorical grandeur before setting the keyboard ablaze with a burst of swaggering, supercharged virtuosity. He has technique to burn and his pungency and force are things to marvel at . . . His rip-roaring Presto finale leaves others standing and never for a moment is he afraid to dare to speak out and be himself. Grosvenor's Ravel brims over with individual touches, his volatility complemented by a no less enviable poise in the central bittersweet Adagio, while in Gershwin his virtuosity is once more exultant rather than brash, brilliantly alive to both whimsy and manic energy. Orchestra and conductor back him to the hilt (the clarinettist milks his opening wail and swell for all its worth) . . . Grosvenor's fine-spun elegance and line are a match for anyone; and in Gershwin's "Love walked in" he could hardly evince a more winking, insinuating charm. Mercifully free from the increasingly stale competition circuit, Grosvenor's is, at the least, a talent in a thousand.
Grosvenor's way with Saint-Saens's Second Piano Concerto is most affecting, capturing not only its fantasy but also its Bachian inspiration . . . [a] breezy finale, where fleet fingerwork and fizzing trills lift Grosvenor's performance to another level . . . a fine account of the Ravel concerto . . . The recording allows for plenty of orchestral detail and Grosvenor highlights the intimacy of the first movement, thus linking it to the heartfelt central Adagio assai . . . [Gershwin: "Rhapsody in blue"]: The clarinet's sliding glissando that opens the Gershwin is alone worth the price of the disc . . . this is a bright and breezy account, full of felicitous touches from Grosvenor, complementing rather than eclipsing Previn/LSO's full-fat Gershwin.
. . . an artistic space alien . . . Never have I not heard him boldly re-imagining the music he plays in ways that made complete sense, had conviction right down to the smallest detail but was completely unlike anything I've previously heard. How such depth of brilliance could be housed by somebody so young is enough to make you believe that reincarnation can come with accumulated wisdom. One instance of how my extravagant claims are manifested in sound is heard in the Ravel concerto . . . I particularly love the big, jazzy glissando gesture in the first movement: Usually it's played as a single flourish, though Grosvenor breaks it down, ever so subtly, into the usual motivic trio with two added echoes. Yet the gesture never feels pulled apart or dissected. It simply reveals itself to you with a sharp focus you've never heard before.
The major work is the Saint-Saëns concerto, given a rather brisk interpretation . . . All of his music receives virtuoso performances, and Decca's sound is clear and impactful.
. . . [Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto no. 2]: Benjamin Grosvenor has an innate understanding of what the work needs and clearly has the time of his life bringing it off . . . a very fine account that's knocked off a top spot . . . [Grosvenor's version] is worth having for his playing of the last movement alone -- one of the most electrifying on disc, from the artfully accented first heats of the theme to his ecstatic delivery of the final page.
. . . un véritable phénomène . . . Trois concertos se complétant idéalement . . .
. . . un feu intérieur d'une sensibilité rare. Après un précédent cd Ravel, Chopin, Liszt plein de vitalité secrète (ravélienne), également édité par Decca, voici la pleine confirmation d'un superbe tempérament à suivre . . . Il déploie une tension musclée d'une évidente musicalité, à l'énoncé organique à la fois très architecturé et toujours souple (pulsion rythmique du II sur le tapis électrique exposé à la timbale à découvert, de loin le plus réussi). L'ardeur dramatique, l'élan du jeune soliste, sa fougue première qui évite le jeu factice d'une mécanique purement virtuose s'imposent par leur détermination, un choix de rubatos d'une limpide cohérence. Même feu et même richesse dynamique dans un Ravel frétillant, rêveur dans son mouvement lent . . . Malgré sa jeunesse, Grosvenor se distingue déjà par l'intelligence de conception de ses programmes. L'indice d'un immense artiste ? Souhaitons que cela se poursuive dans ses prochains récitals.
Déjà apprécié, fêté, voire adulé, cet artiste britannique, encore très jeune et étonnamment talentueux, pulvérise les meilleures dispositions d'avant-écoute. Dès la première oeuvre enregistrée, le merveilleux Concerto pour piano n° 2 de Camille Saint-Saëns, il s'investit totalement dans sa partition et fait chanter son piano . . . [Ravel]: Grosvenor s'exprime avec une musicalité exceptionnelle aussi bien dans le registre classique du premier que jazzy du second. On avait là de quoi être pleinement satisfait mais, cerise sur le gâteau diraient certains, Benjamin Grosvenor conclut avec une interprétation absolument phénoménale de la "Rhapsody in Blue" . . . Grosvenor, solidement soutenu par un orchestre incandescent, fermement soutenu par un Orchestre philharmonique royal de Liverpool survolté sous la baguette de James Judd, enflamme la partition que l'on voudrait sans fin. Une heure magique et enthousiasmante de délectation musicale!