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Every new recording by the supremely gifted Benjamin Grosvenor is an eagerly awaited if long-delayed event. Promised discs of the Britten Concerto and Granados’ Goyescas, with Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody as encore, have sadly failed to materialise. Which makes me all the more grateful for the present offering which shows Grosvenor in masterful form, every inch the modern, young virtuoso.

Like Pollini in his early recording of Chopin’s First Concerto, he takes every technical hurdle in his stride and, throughout, his command and musicianship are unarguable. Make no mistake, these are formidable performances. Yet it could be argued that the playing is so determinedly unsentimental that it misses elements of grace and charm central to Chopin’s first inspirations. Even when you admire the balance of sense and sensibility in the way he arches the ravishing opening of the Second Concerto’s Larghetto, there is a certain lack of inwardness. I missed something of Argerich’s light and shade, the volatility that plays across her performance with Dutoit (admittedly a cruel comparison).

Superb in so many ways, though, Grosvenor’s performances will appeal to those who feel Chopin’s early and effusive style needs a touch of severity. Elim Chan’s partnership is entirely in sympathy, and the recording is excellent.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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