Liszt: Works for Solo Piano

Benjamin Grosvenor

Liszt: Works for Solo Piano
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Liszt: Works for Solo Piano

Benjamin Grosvenor

Hot on the heels of his 2020 Diapason d'Or and Gramophone Award triumphs, British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor presents his first album in a renewed exclusive partnership with Decca Classics.

The album, Liszt, is released on 19 th February 2021, signifying Grosvenor’s most substantial solo recording to date, centred around the works of the Romantic piano virtuoso and composer, Franz Liszt. The release marks Benjamin’s sixth album on Decca Classics, following the award-winning Chopin Piano Concertos in 2020.

Grosvenor says, “Decca Classics has been my recording home for the last decade, and I’m pleased that we are continuing our partnership with this new release. The music of Liszt has been central to my repertoire since I was introduced to it as a child, by my grandfather. I wanted with this recording to show the composer in his different aspects, including some of his original compositions, but also displaying the extraordinarily re-creative abilities he showed in his transcriptions.”

Dominic Fyfe, Decca Classics' Label Director, adds, “I am delighted that Benjamin will start a new chapter with Decca Classics. Decca has been a lifelong home to the legacies of such legendary pianists as Clifford Curzon, Julius Katchen, Vladimir Ashkenazy and more recently Nelson Freire. Benjamin richly deserves his place in such company. He builds on a distinguished discography: both his debut and most recent albums garnered Gramophone awards as well as numerous international honours. His new Liszt recital perfectly captures his compelling pianism and flair for imaginative programming.”

The centrepiece to the new album, Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, is widely regarded as the composer’s ultimate masterwork and milestone of the Romantic piano repertory. The record also features three remarkable Petrarch Sonnets, among the most beloved of Liszt’s works, and his dazzling fantasy on Bellini’s ‘Norma' in which the composer explored virtually all the dramatic capabilities of the instrument in his time. Liszt closes with the charming encore ‘Ave Maria', Liszt’s popular transcription of Schubert’s familiar work.

Review

British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor has been a regular in these pages for many years now. Electrifying the classical music community in 2011 with his first foray into Liszt’s repertoire, we now now have a satisfyingly substantial album devoted to the composer.

The album features the Piano Sonata in B Minor, S. 178, but also has something for the opera lovers with ‘Réminiscences de Norma’ from Bellini’s opera. The sweet and contemplative Berceuse is at the centre of the album and made me realise something about why I love Grosvenor’s playing: it’s not just his phrasing and technical command, but his use of silences between notes that is truly delightful. Grosvenor lets the sound hang in the air, allowing the piano itself to take centre stage with its sonorous tone rather than distracting listeners with fast fingers or showmanship. The quote that immediately came to mind for me was from Aldous Huxley’s essay, ‘Music at Night’: ‘After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’

Here, Grosvenor uses both silence and music to speak to your heart. This is the true mark of a musical master.


Kate Rockstrom is a friend of Readings.

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