One of the hallmarks of the Orchestra of the Swan's success is the gift of collaboration.
No glitzy world-scouring conductors jetting in for a "wham! bam! thank you Mam!" one-off gig. No soloists whose egos would fill a money-bag. No major shifts in orchestral personnel to jeopardise teamwork.
And all these positives were in evidence in abundance last Wednesday afternoon for a wonderful programme of Mendelssohn and Schumann which even made the sun come out from behind the rainclouds.
There was sunshine galore in the music itself, not least in Schumann's Piano Concerto, his loving gift to the young wife he had fought so hard to win. Benjamin Grosvenor's performance was mature beyond his tender years, well-weighted and rich in tone (excellent Yamaha piano) but never flashy; this was well-considered, inward, and always totally attentive to the conducting of David Curtis and the orchestra -- a quality I hope he will never lose when he becomes the superstar he is undoubtedly destined to become.
Grosvenor's unassuming virtuosity was revealed in his encore (how I hate them, but this was totally appropriate to the occasion), Godowsky's transcription of Saint-Saens' The Swan. Its easy-sounding rippling textures belie the complexity of its layers and cross-rhythms, so smoothly delivered by this amazing young man. Let's not bang the gong for over-promoted glitterati. Benjamin Grosvenor puts the music before himself.
Schumann's great friend and colleague Mendelssohn framed the concert (and left his spirit hovering in this building where he held such a presence). Excerpts from his Midsummer Night's Dream music were warmly delivered, with a wonderfully-voiced final chord to end the Nocturne, and then the exuberant Italian Symphony, bubbling with vitality but always tightly controlled under Curtis' empowering baton.