Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor has made an international impact with his positively electric concerts.
He owes his position as one of the most sought-after young pianists of our time not only to an exceptional technique but also to an innate feeling for colour. His absolute mastery of the keyboard, even during the most frighteningly difficult passages, always remains in the service of interpretative depth and intelligence.
The American Record Guide and The Times both see him as an artist who harks back to ‘the golden age of the piano’. For The Independent, his playing is at once ‘poetic and gently ironic, brilliant yet clear-minded, intelligent but not without humour, all translated through a beautifully clear and singing touch’, while Gramophone magazine observes how ‘Grosvenor creates his own authenticity, revelling in music of eternal ebullience and inwardness.’
Benjamin first came to notice at the age of eleven in 2004 by triumphing at the Keyboard Final of the BBC Young Musician competition. He has since acquired a global reputation and has already been invited by some of the world’s foremost orchestras: the London Philharmonic, the Orchestra della Rai, Turin, the New York Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Tokyo Symphony, playing in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican Centre, Victoria Hall in Singapore, and Carnegie Hall, as well as at the Frick Collection. He has worked under the baton of conductors of the calibre of Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jiří Bělohlávek, Semyon Bychkov, Andrey Boreyko, and Vladimir Jurowski.
In 2011, shortly after his nineteenth birthday, Benjamin performed as a soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the First Night of the Proms. His interpretation of Liszt’s 2nd Concerto dazzled the critics and he was promptly invited back the following year, under the direction of Charles Dutoit. In 2014, he appeared at this prestigious London concert series twice, his interpretation of Chopin’s 1st Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda garnering further plaudits. A chamber music evening concert saw Benjamin perform the premier of Day Break Shadows Flee, a commission from Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music.
His diary features concerts with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestras of San Francisco, Houston, and Montreal, the Berlin Konzerthausorchester, the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, and the Orquesta de Euskadi, as well as recitals in Boston, Quebec, in the Vienna Konzerthaus, and at the Southbank Centre, London. In France, he has been a guest of the Salle Gaveau and on-stage at the Festivals of Nohant, Saint Denis, and La Roque d’Anthéron.
In 2011, Benjamin signed an exclusive contract with Decca Classics: he is the youngest musician and the first British pianist to sign for the label for 60 years. His most recent release, entitled Dances, showcases a selection of pieces from various periods and styles, all influenced by the dance. The Guardian called the album ‘breathtaking’.
Critics were similarly bowled over by the exceptional musical quality of his first recording for Decca featuring Chopin’s four Scherzos and Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. One could read in The Times: ‘Grosvenor, you can tell, is a Romantic pianist, almost from another age. He doesn’t deconstruct, or stand at a distance. He jumps inside the music’s soul,’ while The Observer enthused: ‘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.’
Both this recording and the album Dances received Diapason d’Or awards. Again for Decca in 2012 he released an extraordinary CD made with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra entitled Rhapsody in Blue. Before Decca, in 2008 Benjamin had recorded a debut recital album under the title This and That (Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound/EMI, 2008), followed by lesser-known works by Chopin for the bicentenary box released by EMI in 2010. In the course of his as yet brief but dazzling career, Benjamin has received Gramophone’s ‘Young Artist of the Year’ prize and an ‘Instrumental Award’, as well as a ‘Young Talent’ Diapason d’Or. Appearing in a documentary for the BBC and in the ‘Human to Hero’ series on CNN, he has in addition signed a three-year agreement with the banking group EFG.
The youngest of five brothers, Benjamin started to play the piano at the age of six. He went on to study music with Christopher Elton and Daniel-Ben Pienaar at the Royal Academy of Music, London, from which he graduated with flying colours in July 2012.