Thursday, April 11, 2013

Benjamin Grosvenor

On Tuesday night, San Francisco Performances presented pianist Benjamin Grosvenor at the SF Jazz Center, in a gift concert for subscribers. Mr. Grosvenor is just out of his teens but already has an international performance schedule & a recording contract with Decca. He played his opening set of Bach transcriptions with great delicacy & dynamic control. The Beethoven Sonata No. 4 sounded crystalline, every note distinct & separated. The rests in the opening bars of the 2nd movement were well-defined. The 3rd movement was dainty, the concluding Rondo fast but fine-edged.

 photo IMG_20130409_201631_zps451b78af.jpgAfter intermission, Mr. Grosvenor gave a set of Mazurkas by Scriabin a buoyant, floaty feel. A Valse by Scriabin & a Polonaise by Chopin sounded light & iridescent, with neatly played chords & runs. The 2nd half closed with a flowery showpiece version of the Blue Danube. It seemed to have as many notes as the rest of the program combined, & Mr. Grosvenor sustained its rippling passages with astonishing fleetness. He played the recital from memory & with cool aplomb. His hands stay close to the keyboard. The audience was attentive & quiet, though a few latecomers entered the hall during the music. Mr. Grosvenor received a scattered standing ovation, & his Boogie Woogie encore evoked laughter.

SF Jazz Center photo IMG_20130409_202023_zps0a3d9699.jpgIn her introductory remarks, SF Performances President Ruth Felt told us this was the first classical concert held in the SF Jazz Center, which is one of the spaces that SF Performances will use while Herbst Theatre is closed for renovation. The steep seating puts everyone close to the stage. I like the convenient cup holders & ledges for drinks. The topmost seats on the side balcony are definitely not for those with a fear of heights. I did not arrive early enough to grab a ground floor seat, so for the 1st half I sat in the side terrace behind the pianist. The piano sounded perfectly clear if a bit dry. After intermission I moved to the center of the 3rd floor balcony, where the sound was more filled out. The seats up there are swivel bar stools, & a woman seated one over from me swung herself back & forth when bored.

§ Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Special Gift Concert
San Francisco Performances

BACH/KEMPFF: Siciliano in G minor (from Flute Sonata No. 2 in E-flat Major, BWV 1031)
BACH/RUMMEL: Ertödt’ uns durch dein’ Güte (movement 5 of “Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe”, BWV 22)
BACH/SILOTI: Prelude in E minor, BWV 555
BACH/SAINT-SAËNS: Largo (from Sonata No. 3 in C Major for solo violin, BWV 1005)
BACH/SAINT-SAËNS: Sinfonia (from Cantata “Wir Danken Dir, Gott, Wir Danken Dir”, BWV 29)
BEETHOVEN: Sonata in E-flat Major, Opus 7
SCRIABIN: from Mazurkas, Opus 3
    No. 3 in G minor: Allegreto
    No. 4 in E Major: Moderato
    No. 6 in C-sharp minor: Scherzando
    No. 1 in B minor: Tempo giusto
SCRIABIN: Valse, Opus 38
CHOPIN: Polonaise in F-sharp minor, Opus 44


MENDELSSOHN: Songs Without Words, Op. 85, No. 4
MORTON GOULD: Boogie Woogie Etude

Tuesday, April 9, 7:30pm
SF JAZZ Center

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