news_2011_07_05Benjamin Grosvenor‘s performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 at the First Night of the Proms 2011 has won critical acclaim.

First Night of the Proms Reviews:

‘The evening’s main soloist, 19-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor, later launched himself at Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, revelling in its brilliance and conveying its blend of showmanship and poetry with easy assurance. He then went on to dazzle with an encore: one of Brahms’s Hungarian dances arranged by Georges Cziffra, delivered with breathtaking panache.’
George Hall, The Guardian (15 July 2011)

‘That boy seems to have a sonic variety of liquid gold in his fingers. He’s a natural romantic, sensing exactly how to shape an ecstatic arc and pace a rubato; Liszt’s music cries out for his flexible poetry… It takes a special type of courage to go into a packed Royal Albert Hall and play so softly. Fortunately, Grosvenor was able to give an encore – a virtuoso transcription by György Cziffra of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No 5 in which, let off the leash, he showed us a palette beyond anything imaginable in an orchestra, let alone this orchestra.’
Jessica Duchen, The Independent (15 July 2011‎)

‘This performance showed he already has a perfectly honed technique, able to despatch Liszt’s fearsome double-octaves with unflustered precision. In the slow movement he allowed Liszt’s reflective passages to drift up from the keys with properly aristocratic languor.’
Ivan Hewett, Telegraph (15 ‎July 2011‎)

‘Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto also gave us star glitter and subtle musicianship, in the form of the British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor… Listening to Grosvenor, age seemed beside the point. What mattered was the clarity and poetry of his panache, the airy grace of his arpeggios, the lack of flash buckles and bows.’
Geoff Brown, The Times (16 July 2011)

‘He gave Liszt 2 a terrific outing. From the woodwinds’ beguiling opening invitation, responded to with much poetry by Grosvenor, through to the high kicks of the grandstand coda, there was a strong partnership between pianist and orchestra, Bělohlávek brokering a detailed and obliging accompaniment… Grosvenor himself delighted with his sensitivity – his quiet playing magically intimate, the Royal Albert Hall recoiling to the size of Wigmore Hall – the pianist never fazed by the occasion or the space he was playing into. Grosvenor does virtuosity, too, without banging loudly, indulgence, exaggeration or self-aggrandisement. Indeed it was his youthful maturity underpinned by a happy marriage of innate musicianship and secure technique that made Liszt’s bravura, and nocturnal reverie, so rewarding on this occasion. As an encore, Grosvenor offered a Brahms Hungarian Dance as arranged by Cziffra, pure showmanship on the latter’s part if preserving Brahms’s shape and contours, Grosvenor bringing an easeful prestidigitation that never crossed the line into empty display.’
Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com (July 2011)

‘…with the appearance of young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, the air came to fizzle and spark with unexpected intimacies, and to gleam with striking flourishes, both solo and ensemble in nature. Grosvenor established a sense of elasticity, both of pulse and of emphasis, that was stunning, particularly in such a cavernous setting as this one. His tone is often Uchida-like in its shimmer, whilst his passagework and his dramatic handling of the overall shape of this single movement work made the Concerto feel entirely shot through with forceful but meditative theatre. His encore, following a warm reception, was brilliant: A Brahms’ Hungarian Dance as mischievously and showily arranged by Georges Cziffra, sounding here as subtle in its bluntness as you imagine would be possible.’
Stephen Graham, Musical Criticism (July 2011)

‘Grosvenor’s crystalline clarity projected nearly every note effortlessly into the vast auditorium’s spaces. He doesn’t ever have to force for effect…’
David Nice, The Arts Desk (15 July 2011)

‘…he gave a dazzling performance of this demanding work’
Keith McDonnell, Music OMH (July 2011)

The performance to a sold out Royal Albert Hall follows on from the successful release of his first disc with Decca, which has also achieved astounding praise. See here for further information and related reviews.