UK piano prodigy Grosvenor to hold first concert in Korea

Benjamin Grosvenor is one of the rising stars in today's international piano scene, but his playing is not like that of any of his contemporary competitors.

Called by some the "Golden Age" pianist for his admiration of the 20th-century piano greats, the British musician has publicly displayed his disillusionment with how today's piano virtuosi play.

"The wonderful thing about that (Golden Age) era of pianists is their individuality," Grosvenor, 22, told The Korea Herald in an email interview.

"Everyone had their own voice and sound at the piano, a way of expressing themselves which is instantly recognizable. And I think that's what perhaps is lost today."

The Golden Age pianists had "freedom" in the music, he went on, as opposed to the emphasis today on strictly following the composer's intentions.

"If you listen to performances by Moiseiwitsch, he does a lot of things that aren't in the score; there's a more open-minded and individual approach to playing," he said.

"It seems to me that performers today should be bold enough to take liberties with the music if they have good reason ― just as pianists of the past did; if this were to happen, I think music performances would become more varied and more interesting."

Local piano fans will get a chance to listen to his unique world of pianism known for distinctive interpretations, ingenious flair and intuitive revisionisms of classical music pieces.

At his first recital in Korea on Wednesday night at the IBK Chamber Hall of the Seoul Arts Center, Grosvenor will be seeking to breathe his unique "Golden Age" twist into the compositions of Rameau, Bach, Franck, Chopin and Granados.

"With every piece I play I think about drawing out the different emotions and colors in the music, and creating the right level of emotional variety enabled by the particular details found in the music, in the best way I can."

A former child prodigy, Grosvenor had received more musical accolades than most achieve in a lifetime before he even hit his teens. At age 10, he was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year and at 18, as the youngest artist ever to do so, he signed a deal with Decca Records.

In 2012, he took home two Gramophone Awards ― Young Artist of the Year and the Instrumental Award ― for his debut recital album, "Chopin-Liszt-Ravel," and became Gramophone's youngest-ever double award winner.

Last August, Grosvenor unveiled his latest album, "Dances," which ranked No. 1 on Classic FM's Album of the Year 2014.