Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor

(Photo: Decca/Sussie Alburg)

On his new disc, “Dances,” British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor explores the concept of dance music in classical composition.

As on his 2012 debut, the 22-year-old demonstrates depth and soul throughout and particularly shines during his Chopin interpretations.

On the "Grand Polonaise Brillante," he plays (as usual) with both power and a light, warm touch.

An underlying dance feel is always present, and a real singing quality emerges when he gets to the melody three and a half minutes into this track.   

These qualities also serve Grosvenor well on a 10-minute arrangement based on Johann Strauss’s “By The Beautiful Blue Danube.” Grosvenor shows his technical mastery in this insanely difficult piano transcription. (Check out just the first page of the score.)  

This disc wraps up with two minutes of pure fun: Morton Gould's “Boogie-Woogie Etude.”  And, just like when the young pianist played this as an encore at the 2011 BBC Proms, it’s a perfect ending to this collection of dance pieces.

Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor plays an encore of Morton Gould's "Boogie Woogie Étude" at the 2011 BBC Proms. 

The idea for this album had its beginnings in a letter Italian pianist Ferruccio Busoni wrote to a student in 1909, proposing a recital with a “dance programme” theme.

Grosvenor used that same idea when preparing a 2012 recital at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, and has continued working with the concept on this new CD.  

It’s interesting to hear him start with Bach and work his way through pieces by Chopin, Granados, Scriabin and others before ending up with a boogie-woogie. The “dance” thread holds it all together.  

Stream the album below. You'll need a Spotify account, which is free, to listen.