BENJAMIN GROSVENOR Chopin Liszt Ravel 4783206

. . . [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 . . .

His debut programme . . . ingeniously moves from Chopin to Ravel's "Gaspard De La Nuit" by way of Liszt's "En Reve", a pleasing arc further finessed by the way he alternates Chopin scherzos and nocturnes, respectively showcasing Grosvenor's boundless dexterity and his precocious sensitivity. It's an immensely confident set . . . the most impressive aspect being not his obvious command of technique, but an intellectual and emotional understanding of the music way beyond his tender years.

He jumps inside the music's soul . . . perfection seems only a few doors away. And so many ingredients are already in place: the natural breathing in phrasing and rhythm; the unfussy decorations; the sense, always, of a heart beating. Decca didn't make any mistake signing Benjamin Grosvenor.

There's something irresistibly miraculous about youthful talent, and music allows that quality to shine out with peculiar potency . . . [the] performance of Chopin's B flat minor Scherzo . . . is amazingly fresh and passionate, and the unusual way he shapes the opening phrase shows a sharp musical intelligence at work . . . [the] performance of Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" . . . is extraordinary in its delicate touch and range of colour.

The first thing you notice is the limpid surface of Grosvenor's playing, the warm tonal gleam that he conjures up from the keys. It is a beautiful sound, and beneath it there are seams of passion, discretion and emotional affinity with the music . . . [this recital] shows intelligence coupled with a command of keyboard colour and musical characterisation that are remarkable.

This recital disc shows his ability to twin youthful exuberance with impeccable technique and magisterial musical intelligence. Chopin's four scherzos, here interwoven with three nocturnes, demand a grasp of structure, especially the wild No 1 in B minor, which more experienced pianists struggle to convey. Grosvenor 's balance of oratory and ornament, gesture and poetry ¿ evident, too, in Ravel 's Gaspard de la nuit ¿ are moving as well as impressive. He 's a phenomenon: modest, poised and natural, as well as brimming with talent.

Grosvenor finds time to articulate clearly and to accent . . . his rhythmic crispness and beguiling touch offer many rewards . . . his trilling and lilting of the C sharp minor Nocturne is simply ravishing . . . the two Chopin songs that Liszt transcribed are pure pleasure -- Grosvenor plays them with affection, charm and just the right degree of elasticity, "The Maiden's Wish" being brought off with irresistible zest and subtlety . . . an impressive account of the Ravel . . . Grosvenor succeeds in creating a tense atmosphere in "Ondine" diverged with much that is suitably poetic . . . Grosvenor electrifies the air with his astonishingly fluent fingers and he judges to a nicety the work¿s vaporous conclusion . . . Captured in fine sound, faithful to the pianist's range of colours and dynamics, Benjamin Grosvenor's first release for Decca can only be counted a success . . .

It is hard to believe these recitals are from a 19-year-old but Grosvenor is not any old 19-year-old . . . His musicality, emotional maturity and sensitivity will bring tears to your eyes. You won't be able to stop listening.

These recordings of Chopin and Ravel . . . confirm that Grosvenor's talent is a special one . . . [the four Chopin scherzos] interleaved with three of the nocturnes, and Ravel's "Gaspard", demonstrate the brilliance of Grosvenor's technique as he takes the challenges of Chopin's pieces in his stride, and vividly conjures up the colours of Ravel's piano writing.

He has a very impressive technique, and his musical voice is all his: in many respects the Chopin works recorded here are a delight . . . [Grosvenor can] produce a honeyed tone, and with the posthumous E minor Nocturne he creates a pared-down plangency. Meanwhile, his delivery of Liszt's arrangement of Chopin's fifth Polish song has a sweet intimacy.

. . . one of the most individual things about this stunning debut by Benjamin Grosvenor is his pervasive sense of balance and his unerring blend of Classical restraint and Romantic ardour. Nowhere is this more striking than in the First and Third Chopin Scherzos, whose dark anguish coexists with, and complements, a lightness of texture and crystalline articulation. At no point, however, do the refinement and clarity of the pianism compromise the intensity of the drama. He is a virtuoso who declines the mantle of the virtuoso, every gesture being put exclusively and exhilarating at the service of the music . . . Grosvenors's playing exudes joy and spontaneity, seeming to release rather than to interpret the music. He is also a master of mood and atmosphere, with the ability to coordinate colour and structure to a rare degree. Ravel's "Gaspard de la nuit" consistently reveals his exceptional versatility and resourcefulness in this regard, and with him the music always moves . . . At 19, Grosvenor is already a pianist of uncommon distinction.

It's astonishing to think that Grosvenor is only 18 . . . Ravel's "Gaspard de la nuit", whose fearsome challenges of touch and pedalling . . . are met with stunning aplomb.

. . . Benjamin Grosvenor has been nothing but a sensation so far, and this recital disc . . . gives ample evidence why . . . his fingers can do anything . . . Grosvenor commands an expressive specificity that's rare among pianists in any age group, but with the kind of strong-minded interpretive insights of an audacious youth. Time and again, one is struck by his conviction; everything he does seems to be indisputably right . . . The recital's peak is Ravel's "Gaspard", to which Grosvenor brings a clarity that reveals a level of musical traffic not apparent in any performance I've previously heard.

Stunningly well-played and most beautifully recorded, this recital is one of the most impressive I have heard this year . . . this recital is greater than the sum of its parts, an intensely satisfying hour and a quarter. Most highly recommended for investigation, especially in its high resolution format . . . this is a record of the year for me!

The virtuosity is easy to write about, and there's plenty of it. And yet, in the context of what makes this CD really exceptional, mere digital dexterity is hardly the main issue. Benjamin Grosvenor's art is in what might flippantly be called a small print, those intimate moments that only a genuine artist understands. True, he has the measure of Chopin's most mercurial Scherzo, the Fourth, which he performs with a subtle brand of bravura, and his coltish exuberance in the other three Scherzos is much to be admired. His Ravel is gripping . . . perhaps the most telling track is the shortest, an ethereal canvas by Liszt called "En rêve" where every phrase is tellingly placed, every colour skillfully applied, whether with a subtle smudge of a thumb or the bolder stroke of a brush . . . this is the artistry of an era I thought was long gone, the era of Cortot, Horowitz, Friedman, Cherkassky . . . a hugely gifted 20-year-old . . . who can actually make that world come alive, who lives it as authentically as they did. We should rejoice that a voice such as his is thriving among us.

. . . astonishing playing, which has to be heard to be believed.

. . . déjà un phénomène . . . ses enregistrements l'ont précédé: on y découvre une personnalité plus qu'intéressante, jouant à la fois très près du texte et avec un sens bien à lui des climats et des couleurs.

Diablement intelligent, le programme . . . Dès les premiers tourbillons du Scherzo no. 1, superbement galbés, furieusement accentués, on comprend que Benjamin Grosvenor est plutôt du genre véloce . . . Un détail parmi cent: l'introduction du Scherzo no. 3, avec ses glissements harmoniques souvent négligés par des pianistes myopes, que le jeune Anglais sent et traduit à la perfection. Deux minutes du dernier Liszt, suspendues, irisée, aux accents de prière, font une transition rêvée entre l'univers de Chopin et celui de Ravel. Ce "Gaspard de la nuit" n'est pas un "Gaspard" de plus, mais bien la révélation d'une personnalité. Couleur, sonorité, variété, vivacité, ambitus expressif autorisent des accélérations fantastiques comme des lames de fond ("Ondine"), des immobilités ("Le Gibet"), des murmures ("Scarbo") d'une finesse impalpable. Et peut-être par-dessus tout, un sens inné de la dramaturgie, toujours animée, vivante, vibrante, jamais figée par des contrastes arbitraires ou fabriqués. Benjamin Grosvenor ne cherche pas à nous séduire, à nous leurrer. Tout simplement, il trouve . . . Bienvenue dans le monde du disque. Et la suite, vite!

Une sensibilité pleinement aboutie, étonnante pour son jeune âge (19 ans), le jeune pianiste britannique Benjamin Grosvenor . . . fait mouche dans ce programme difficile et pourtant jubilatoire, qui mêle Scherzos et Nocturnes de Chopin et un "Gaspard de la nuit" tout aussi fantasque, déluré, onirique, halluciné, qui montre combien l'interprète maîtrise l'agilité incandescente de Ravel, sans omettre la vibration visionnaire et habitée de ses Liszt. Un premier disque qui est un coup de maître. Le signe d'une pensée musicale d'une rare pertinence, à l'image du programme dont les enchaînements sont d'une rare et exquise pertinence: ici, Liszt, contemporain de Chopin, passe le flambeau vers Ravel dont il a exercé une forte influence . . . la trépidation des Scherzos chopinien sont exaltants et éruptifs, à peine assagis et tempérés par les Nocturnes intercalaires qui leur servent de tampons apaisants: la flamme du jeu s'embrase littéralement et démontre l'extrême souplesse du jeune artiste. Le feu de Grosvenor articule les moindres nuances et un souci et une délicatesse hagogique récréative. Qu'il a d'idées, et qu'elles sont intelligemment énoncées, sans ostentation mais avec profondeur et finesse. Pour mes joies et souhaits d'une jeune fille de Chopin/Liszt, l'ivresse sonore atteint des miroitements spirituels d'une étonnante maturité. Passeur enivré et fiévreux, porteur de visions fantastiques et d'atmosphères surnaturelles, "BG" nous assène un Gaspard ravélien (1908) à la fois lumineux et terrifiant, d'une finition orfévrée: tel un lutin évanescent, doué d'une fulgurante énergie, Benjamin Grosvenor parcourt la lande ravélienne, inspirée d'Aloysius Bertrand, parsemée de visions, d'éclairs, de personnages enchanteurs/vénéneux (Ondine, liquide, ondulante, provocatrice et mystérieuse), héroïques et délurés (le nain démoniaque Scarbo); le triptyque est furieusement inventif, sans éclats factices, sans calculs démonstratifs, mais au c¿ur du conte musical, avec une audace de ton et une électricité juvénile, neuve et splendide (intensité poétique glaçante et captivante du Gibet et ses teintes chaudes à la Véronèse). Révélation d'un nouveau très grand tempérament artistique. A suivre.

Le jeune Britannique joue comme il respire, son piano est explosif, coloré, organique, porté par des moyens techniques illimités, une perceptible culture, et une inspiration inépuisable: le redoutable triptyque de Ravel le révèle dans toute sa richesse.