Wednesday 5 July 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, July 2017)

Decca 483 0255 / *****

There are two separate tributes in British wunderkind Benjamin Grosvenor's latest solo disc. The first is a homage to Johann Sebastian Bach's legacy, which opens with Busoni's famous transcription of the Chaconne in D minor (from Bach's Violin Partita No.2). It is a glorious performance which builds up arch-like through a series of climaxes while sensitive to many subtle nuances. 

This is followed by two of Mendelssohn's Prelude & Fugues (Op.35), Romantic updates of the contrapuntal writing celebrated in Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, and Cesar Franck's well-known neo-Bachian Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, which are no less impressively rendered.  

The second tribute features the musings of Romantic composers on the sunny climes of Italy. Chopin's Barcarolle finds Grosvenor in cantabile heaven in this Venetian gondolier's song. In Liszt's Venezia E Napoli (from Years Of Pilgrimage), the song-like thread continues for Gondoliera and Canzone, before erupting in free-wheeling coruscations for the vertiginous Tarantella. 

Liszt employs several popular Venetian and Neapolitan songs which are turned into a feast of pianism where Grosvenor obliges with obvious relish. Another highly pleasurable listen beckons. 

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