Thursday, 9 April 2015

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, April 2015)

Decca 478 5334 / *****

British wunderkind pianist Benjamin Grosvenor has been well-advised on his recording output, which averages one disc a year. Every concept album has been a winner and his third CD, a Gramophone Award recipient, is centred on dance-forms through the ages. Not all of the works can be danced to, but all are celebrations of the dance genre, including Bach's Partita No.4 in D major. Barring its first movement which is a French overture, the ensuing six movements include the allemande, courante, air, sarabande, minuet and gig, all antique dances which Grosvenor enlivens in his crisply articulated and graceful way.

From Chopin's native homeland comes his Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise (Op.22) and F sharp minor Polonaise (Op.44), the latter which can sound interminable but not in Grosvenor's hands. He also contributes three Scriabin Mazurkas (with debt of influence to Chopin), Scriabin's ecstatically charged Waltz (which transcends the Chopinesque variety) and Spaniard Enrique Granados' eight charming Valsas Poeticos (Poetic Waltzes).

Pride of place goes to the Schulz-Evler fantastically filigreed transcription of Johann Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz, a world apart from the simplicity of Godowsky's take on Albeniz's Tango. To close, American Morton Gould's Boogie Woogie √Čtude, a favourite of the late great Shura Cherkassky, brings the house down. Play it again, Ben!     

with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra
conducted by OKKO KAMU
10 & 11 April 2015, 
Victoria Concert Hall at 7.30 pm
Tickets available at SISTIC

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