Benjamin Grosvenor feels a special kinship with the music of Frédéric Chopin

When Benjamin Grosvenor made his recital debut at Symphony Center in 2017, he was just 24 years old but had already attained extraordinary success. Just six years earlier, he became the youngest British artist ever and the first British pianist in 60 years to sign with the prestigious recording label Decca Classics.

Now at 29, Grosvenor has settled in as something as a young old master, regularly performing with some of the world’s top orchestras and continuing to record with Decca (he renewed his contract in 2021) and has gained several important honors. In 2021-22, he is serving as an artist-in-residence at London’s Wigmore Hall, alongside such other classical luminaries as baritone Christian Gerhaher and violinist Isabelle Faust.

“I don’t think I approach things any differently,” Grosvenor said via email. “The job hasn’t changed, and I’m still just trying to make good music. However, there is a certain amount of confidence that hopefully grows with age and one becomes more experienced at dealing with different situations over time.”

A measure of Grosvenor’s still-growing standing can be seen in March and April with his extensive U.S. tour, which includes three concerts with the Baltimore Symphony and 11 recitals in cities ranging from Denver to Savannah, Ga., to New York City. The tour begins March 4, 5 and 8 with the pianist’s debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, an event that had been set for 2019 but had to be postponed. “It always feels fresh and exciting to come back to this wonderful city,” Grosvenor said. “Every concert experience is quite different, but it’s always a pleasure to come back to familiar places and see old friends.”

He joins guest conductor Paavo Järvi in Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21. While this piece is actually the earlier of the composer’s two works in the form despite the numbering, having been written when Chopin was about 20 years old, Grosvenor believes it is actually the “more accomplished.” “In the Second, nothing feels like it is unnecessary,” he said. “It is a brilliant emotional journey from the nobility and drama of the first movement to the highly personal tenderness of the second and the suave virtuosity of the third.”

Grosvenor has long felt a special connection to the music of Chopin and has made it a central part of his repertoire. He describes the Polish composer as his “first love” among composers. “He was such a gifted melodist and knew how to spin those melodies in a way that was vocal and yet perfectly suited to the piano with its natural [sonic] decay,” he said. “His is some of the most personal and emotive music written for the piano, and there is just so much of it to explore.”

The pianist’s 2020 recording of the two Chopin Piano Concertos with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra won both a Gramophone Award in the concerto category and a Diapason d’Or de l’année, an annual honor bestowed by the Diapason magazine in France. “There’s pianism of historic caliber on this release,” wrote music critic David Allen in the New York Times, “and another mark of Mr. Grosvenor’s breathtaking maturity, even though he is still in his 20s. Summoning playing of pure poetry, he lavishes on these concertos all his lauded sensitivity, innate sense of pace and effortless way with phrasing.”

Since re-signing with Decca last year, Grosvenor released his sixth album on the label in February. It is devoted to the music of Franz Liszt and includes the composer’s challenging Piano Sonata in B Minor. “I recorded my first disc with Decca when I was just 18, and it has been great to have the continuity of their support,” he said. “It has been interesting to see how the industry has changed so much during that time, now with the dominance of streaming. I feel like I have the right amount of artistic freedom there, and I am recording another recital disc later this year.”

Even with Grosvenor’s many accomplishments so far, it is easy to believe that the best is still yet to come for this first-rate young pianist