If you don't believe the critical accolades praising 18-year-old pianist Benjamin Grosvenor's astonishing command of the instrument and vivid interpretive gifts, you will when you're done listening to this disc. His supple, light-fingered, playful, and imaginatively characterized Chopin Scherzi count among the best. Fanciful nuances, inner voices, and unexpected rubatos fall from Grosvenor's sleeves like rabbits from a magician's hat, yet these gestures enhance rather than dissipate Chopin's structures.
The three Nocturnes are brisk but not rushed, and feature eloquently spun, gorgeously shaded, perfectly proportioned right-hand melodies. Both Chopin/Liszt song transcriptions standRead more out for exquisite, amazingly even filigree that yields nothing in finesse and control to Josef Hofmann's 1935 HMV test pressings, and that's the ultimate compliment! In contrast to pianists who play Liszt's sparsely-textured late pieces in a gloomy, bleak manner, Grosvenor almost throws En rêve away.
Grosvenor's gentle animation, delicacy, precision, and ravishing tonal palette set reference standards for those attracted to the underlying classicism in Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, despite a few clipped and undersold climaxes in the Scarbo movement. For edgier, more subjective and demonically tinted Gaspards, go to Argerich and Pogorelich, but Grosvenor's approach is on par with (and indeed sometimes surpasses) Simon, Schuch, Bavouzet, and Michelangeli. A remarkable release no piano lover should miss.
Gaspard de la nuitby Maurice Ravel Performer:
Benjamin Grosvenor (Piano)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1908; France
Scherzo No.1 In B Minor, Op. 20
Nocturne No.5 in F sharp, Op.15, No.2
Scherzo No.4 In E, Op.54
Nocturne No.19 in E minor, Op.72 No.1
Scherzo No.3 in C sharp minor, Op.39
Nocturne In C Sharp Minor, Op. Posth.
Scherzo No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.31
My Joys, Op.74 No.12 (arranged Liszt as No.5 of "Six Chants Polonais" S.480)
The Maiden's Wish, Op.74,No.1 (arranged Liszt as No.1 of "Six Chants Polonais" S.480)
En Reve, Nocturne, S.207
Gaspard de la nuit: Ondine
Gaspard de la nuit: Le gibet
Gaspard de la nuit: Scarbo
Average Customer Review: ( 6 Customer Reviews )
Fast is in the ear of the beholderMarch 25, 2013By Robert Claassen (Tucson, AZ)See All My Reviews"These interpretations of the Chopin Scherzos are as terrific as they come. Very Horowitz-like; and I really don't like Horowitz but I love these. The rest of the disc is very fine. There are three or four other versions of Gaspard I might listen to first; but I have no intention of giving up this one."Report Abuse
Extraordinary playingJanuary 19, 2013By Michael Gast (Santa Fe, NM)See All My Reviews"I've heard this repertoire all my life played by the greatest pianists of our time and the recorded past. Grosvenor not only holds his own but offers a uniquely musical personality that wipes the dust from all these works in refreshing, thoroughly engaging performances that now rank among my favorites. This young man is a minor miracle, and the recorded sound by Decca is stunning, too."Report Abuse
Very Fast Fingers - But StrangeJanuary 19, 2013By Richard Greiner (Madison, WI)See All My Reviews"Hear some of the fastest finger work in captivity. Grosvenor can play faster that anyone I have heard. Perhaps faster that should be allowed. I had to dig out some of my many older and more mature performances of these works to recapture my sanity. I found the recording, despite the speed of performance, to be dull. The piano emitted big, muddled and dull thumps in the lower registers. As an engineer and designer of audio equipment for 50 years, I still could not figure out what Decca had done to sound. Perhaps the muddle was caused by the piano or the room. I found all of the performances wanting and especially the Chopin. I hope to never hear this disc again. Doc G"Report Abuse