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Benjamin Grosvenor & Friends

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Southbank Centre: Queen Elizabeth HallBelvedere Road, London, Greater London, SE1 8XX, United Kingdom
On Thursday 27 February 2020 at 19:45

Passion and ambition come to the fore in youthful works by two great composers of the Romantic era, played by an ensemble of outstanding soloists. Johannes Brahms was 20 and in love when he began his third piano quartet, while Strauss was just 19, a dedicated Brahms fan, and on the brink of fame. Brahms drafted his quartet during a period when he was living in the household of the composer Robert Schumann, and had fallen for Schumann’s wife Clara, a pianist and composer. Two years earlier, Schumann had championed the genius of the teenage Brahms; now he had committed himself to an asylum after a failed suicide attempt, and Brahms was doing his best to look after the family left behind. The quartet was almost 20 years in the making, completed years after Schumann’s death and Brahms’ decision not to marry Clara. The first movement, however, brings Brahms’ youthful feelings to life.

The last of the German Romantic composers, Richard Strauss, was deeply influenced by Brahms when he wrote his Piano Quartet on the same four-movement model at the age of 19. Strauss wrote few chamber pieces, and this expressive work demonstrates a talent for drama that would later emerge in the composer’s operas.

Benjamin Grosvenor began performing at Southbank Centre at the age of 20, and last year was critically lauded for an interpretation of Schubert’ Trout Quintet for which he was joined by the Korean violinist Hyeyoon Park, the principal cellist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Kian Soltani, and viola player Timothy Ridout. The Guardian reported of the group’s performance: ‘The tension was thrilling, the scherzo springing into life as if its unmistakable upbeat had been released suddenly from a confined space. Crucial to the mix was Grosvenor, who moved seamlessly from foreground to background, his quicksilver fingers constantly communicating, a luminous tone and beautifully sculpted phrases... a true chamber musician.’

Ticket prices: £45, 35, 25, 15

© Patrick Allen | Opera Omnia
© Patrick Allen | Opera Omnia
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