Chopin: Scherzos; Nocturnes; Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit, etc - review

Benjamin Grosvenor (Decca)

With two appearances at the Proms this summer, Benjamin Grosvenor has been thrust suddenly into the spotlight, and the release of his first disc for Decca has only added to the attention focused on the 19-year-old pianist. These recordings of Chopin and Ravel, separated by a clutch of Liszt miniatures, confirm that Grosvenor's talent is a special one, but their unevenness also reveals that he is not quite the finished article yet. Both the main works here – the four Chopin scherzos, played in the order 1, 4, 3, 2, and 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, if rather underplaying the pieces' nightmarish qualities. The way he tears into the first of the scherzos, the B minor, never allows its drama to register, and his treatment of the third and fourth is equally wayward. It's only when Grosvenor reaches the Scherzo No 2 in B Flat minor that you sense his brain and fingers are working together, and the performance reaches a wholly different level.

Contributor

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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