LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL
EuroArts DVD 2059088 / *****
The young Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii, blind from birth, was already a celebrity in
Japan before he shared First Prize at the 2009
Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. After that, he became a universal
icon. This video recording of his Carnegie Hall début on 10
showed that his victory was no fluke, a genuine and prodigious talent totally
beyond doubt. He learnt his music by ear, with each work painstakingly pieced
together with the help of teachers and an instinctual grasp of diverse musical
idioms. There is no performance in his recital that does not sound convincing.
One suspends belief on witnessing the opening piece, Improvisation & Fugue by the American John Musto, specially commissioned for the competition. His mastery of its seemingly atonal themes and jazzy riffs is a feat that demands repeated viewing. The Beethoven Tempest Sonata (Op.31 No.2) that follows possesses the requisite drama and fire, while he tosses off the technicalities of Liszt’s Un Sospiro and Rigoletto Paraphrase with the greatest of ease. That his view of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is more characterised and trenchant than many sighted pianists is also significant. There are three encores which reveal a more mellow and sentimental side to his artistry. If this DVD does not inspire you or warm your heart, nothing will.
Nobu's piano recital at Esplanade Concert Hall on Tuesday (25 June) has been sold out.
GERSHWIN / SAINT-SAENS / RAVEL
BENJAMIN GROSVENOR, Piano
Philharmonic / James Judd
Decca 478 352 7 / *****
The 2012 Gramophone Award-winning young British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor’s début concerto recording confirms the plaudits he has been receiving of late. This is a collection of easy-on-the-ear piano concertos that demands elegance, finesse and intelligence to pull off, not just a surfeit of bravura. Saint-Saëns’s Second Piano Concerto was once described as a journey “from Bach to
”. It can sound vulgar and frivolous, but
in his hands, comes across as witty, even thoughtful. Ravel’s jazz-inflected Piano Concerto in G major benefits from
his rapier-keen reflexes in the fast outer movements, and a graceful dreaminess
for the Mozartian slow movement. Offenbach
That leaves Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, in its original 1924 version for jazz band, which he owns with a swing and swagger than would make jazzmen jealous. As a gratifying touch, he offers solo encores after each concerto. The choices of Godowsky’s transcription of Saint-Saens’s The Swan, Ravel’s minute-long Prelude (crafted as a conservatory sight-reading piece) and Percy Grainger’s take on Gershwin’s Love Walked In have an exquisite touch and reflect his catholic tastes. Grosvenor’s next album, whatever it may be, will be keenly awaited.
BENJAMIN GROSVENOR Piano Recital
International Piano Festival Singapore
School of the Arts /
Tickets available at SISTIC (Selling out fast)