Benjamin Grosvenor at Music in the Round
Friday 18th October, Upper Chapel Sheffield
SCHUMANN Blumenstück in D flat Op.19
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana Op.16
JANÁČEK 1.X.1905 From the Street
PROKOFIEV Visions Fugitives Op.22
LISZT Réminiscences de Norma de Bellini Grande Fantasie
It’s not been long since Benjamin Grosvenor perform in Sheffield, although that was with an orchestra in a much larger venue. It was a fantastic opportunity to see the British-born pianist perform an intimate recital as part of the Autumn Music in the Round season. With a programme jam-packed with Romantic and early twentieth century works, this concert was set to be a dazzling display of musicianship.
Starting with an all-Schumann first half, Grosvenor’s interpretations of Blumenstück and Kreisleriana were all the more heightened by his incredible tone. The venue of Upper Chapel supported this, and the powerful passages really made an impact. The polyphonic foundations of Kreisleriana were performed with tenacity to create a rousing performance of the quirky Schumann piano cycle.
Composed as a response to the murder of a demonstrator at a protest in Brno, Janáček’s 1.X.1905 is a beguiling two-movement work that is a musical portrait of tragedy. Grosvenor’s emotional intensity paid dividends in this work, with the two movements aptly marked as “Foreboding” and “Death”. The sweeping laments leading to the ultimate climax in the second movement rattled through the piano and into the glorious venue of Upper Chapel creating a really exciting end to the work.
The quick change into Prokofiev’s jaunty collection of short piano works Visions Fugitives proved a pleasant change in the programme. Although not performing all 20 in the collection, the selection that Grosvenor chose showed off a tremendous amount of atmospheres, textures and colours.
Finishing the concert with Liszt’s ‘showman’ work Réminiscences de Norma, Grosvenor was able to show off his classy playing and his total command of the instrument. The grand gestures in the runs and the expressiveness of the legato sections created full orchestral textures worthy of mention.
Three encores finished off the concert with Ginastera’s jazz-inspired Argentinian Dance No.3, Grieg’s Erotique and Liszt’s Gnomenreigen. Grosvenor’s technical prowess over the piano was the highlight of this concert. Being so close to someone exuding that much virtuosity was quite the treat!
About Music in the Round
Music in the Round is the leading national promoter of chamber music. We bring people and music closer together through our unique, informal and informative style of ‘in the round’ performances, touring to numerous venues around the country as well as presenting two concert series and the annual Sheffield Chamber Music Festival at our home venue, the Crucible Studio. Our concerts are characterised by passion, excellence and proximity, connecting people to each other through being close to the musicians and the lively spoken introductions to the music.
© Alex Burns 2019