After his Adelaide concert, Grosvenor concluded his Australian tour with a stellar performance of the Grieg piano concerto with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Asher Fisch, first in Geelong then in Melbourne. The concerto was flanked by Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture and his Fourth Symphony. Even such an exuberant program, with the full forces of the orchestra in fine form, proved the power of music to provide the necessary solace following news of the dreadful events in Paris on 13 November.
Grosvenor demonstrated his perfect artistry and musicianship, bringing extraordinary subtlety of expression to a work better known for its bombastic passages and hair-raising exposed entries for the soloist. He has the amazing ability to project the sound of the piano effortlessly, and creates the most beautiful tone from the instrument, even in the loudest passages for which the concerto is renowned. His pianos and pianissimi were of the greatest delicacy and always fully audible in the packed Hamer Hall. Apart from the superb playing by Grosvenor, what marked this performance was the remarkable ensemble between soloist, conductor, and orchestra, with much of the performance feeling more like a duet between the piano and the other instrumentalists rather than soloist pitted against a symphony orchestra.
After the tumultuous drama of Grieg's concerto, the rapt audience was treated to an entirely different sound world with an encore of Percy Grainger's arrangement of George Gershwin's 'Love Walked In'. Let us hope that Melbourne is treated to a recital when this outstanding young pianist visits again.
Tchaikovsky and Grieg, featuring Benjamin Grosvenor with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Asher Fisch, in Geelong (13 November) and Melbourne (14 November). Performance attended: 14 November 2015.
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