Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Outstanding music

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Review from the South Wales Evening Post, 22nd November 2011, by Malcolm Rees

Outstanding music
Grace Francis, Brangwyn Hall, Swansea

THE Vera Smart Trust has brought many outstanding musicians to the Brangwyn in its drive to promote chamber music in Swansea. Few, however, have had the impact of Grace Francis.

This young lady has all the technique and passion required to produce great performances of some of the finest piano music created.

She seamlessly switches from the sensitive passages to the more robust sections and seems to bring added value to each piece.

In this performance she performed music by Liszt, Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky. However the highlight for me was Pictures From An Exhibition by Mussorgsky.
Miss Francis brought an extra dimension to the work, bringing to life some of the characters and locations featured.

In short, an outstanding performance.

Malcolm Rees

No better pianist in the world today than Grace

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

29 June 2011

Review of Grace Francis Recital at Tillingham Congregational Church by John Phillips – Maldon and Burnham Standard

No better pianist in the world today than Grace
Consummate playing in performance to remember on Dengie

“There were ten extremely unfortunate individuals last Friday, and they didn’t even know it. All of them knew of, but failed to buy the ten unsold tickets for what was probably the most mind-bogglingly wonderful piano recital given in Essex since Franz Liszt came to Chelmsford more than 150 years ago.

Most of the audience had heard, or heard of, Grace Francis’s performance in Tillingham last June, and had returned eager for more of her consummate playing, and interpretations.

I reviewed that concert in ecstatic terms and having heard her three times since, can report that she continues to improve in terms of the subtlety of her interpretations and in the variety of her tone, colour and dynamic range.

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Balakirev’s Islamey are rarely heard live, the former because of the difficulty of making it work, and the latter because of its fiendish difficulty.

I have never heard a better performance of either piece, even on disc. In fact, I defy anyone to name a better pianist in the world today.”

John Phillips

No better pianist in the world than Grace - Review Tilligham Festival  2011

Review by John Phillips from the Maldon and Burnham Standard

Review of Grace playing at the Chichester Festival

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The News (Portsmouth)


Grace Francis At Chichester Cathedral

Published Date: 30 June 2010

By Mike Allen

How refreshing, in an image-obsessed age, to see an apparently shy, studious young woman approach the piano and then hold an audience enthralled.

Grace Francis built her Chichester Festivities programme on contrasts, in the third sonata by Brahms and between works by Rachmaninov and Liszt.

In Liszt it was a mixture of the religious (Ave Maria) and the fiendish (Mephisto Waltz No 1). A mixture of the Grace of God and the dare of the Devil, you might say.

Ms Francis had the full measure of the Russian qualities of Rachmaninov, too, but the truest measure of her musicianship and technique came in the Brahms.

Anyone hearing it for the first time and knowing nothing about it would find it impossible to say whether it was from the composer’s fierily youthful years or his final reflective phase. In fact it is early (Opus 5), and the never-flashy British pianist plunged into its big ideas with properly explosive passion without sacrificing quality of sound.

But the sonata’s two slow movements represent the music’s heart, and here Ms Francis was equally successful – catching the rapture of the first and the regret of the second.

Throughout the recital, she showed a fine command of long-breathed melodic lines.

Grace Francis ranks among the best

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Review of Grace playing at the Tillingham Festival

Grace played the Brahms Sonata No.3 , Rachmaninov Variations on a Theme of  Corelli, Prokoviev Eight Visions Fugitives, Liszt Mephisto Waltz No.1 at the Tillingham Festival of Music and Arts on 26th June 2010 and had this rave review:

Maldon and Burnham Standard

Lugano Festival reviews for 5th April 2010

Monday, June 7th, 2010


In between the two works of Respighi’s The Fountains of Rome and Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, the main piece was the Grieg piano concerto in which the young English soloist, Grace Francis, played with agility, choosing a dimension of delicate technique rather than favouring  a romantic approach.

The audience’s long and enthusiastic applause showed its appreciation to all the talent of the EUYO and their celebrated conductor.

Gasperi Giuliano
Corriere del Ticino
Wednesday 14th April 2010


In Lugano, the inaugural concert last night with the European Youth Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, gave a possible key to the question of why he gives preferential support to this event. The famous conductor escorted  and introduced a young musician.

It happened last night when the pianist Grace Francis, who, so far, is inexplicably still on the fringe of the international concert circuit.

A discovery, then, that Ashkenazy, the most famous among living pianists, himself wanted to have her in the EUYO tour.

Zeno Gabaglio

Review from Musical Opinion March/April 2010

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Review by Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion Magazine, March/April 2010

This exceptionally gifted young player delivers performances of very high quality throughout this well recorded CD. The second book of Brahms’s Paganini Variations is perhaps more technically demanding than the first, but Ms Francis dispatches the work’s difficulties so well that one is forced to concentrate upon the musical expression rather than her virtuosity. Her account of the first Brahms Sonata is also very good indeed, especially in the demonic Scherzo, yet her sensitivity is also much to be admired. Her Liszt playing is quite outstanding, and every one of these performances has to be counted as being very impressive. Grace Francis’s combination of deep musicianship and commanding virtuosity are really fine and this CD I am sure will be one of my records of the year.

A remarkable debut CD

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Quartz has just released Grace’s debut CD, Brahms & Liszt, to critical acclaim. The disc is available at HMV for £15, Discovery Records for £10.99, at for £9.99 and on Amazon.


Grace Francis’s recital at Wigmore Hall last month is closely followed by this equally remarkable debut disc. She has a prodigious technique, so the bravura demands of Brahms’s Paganini Variations and Liszt’s Tarantella hold no terrors for her, and she makes Liszt’s intricate filigree writing a thing of enchantment. She revels, too, in the rhythmic energy of the Brahms C major sonata, but sounds a deep, glowing note in its slow-movement variations. This early opus, written when the composer was barely 20, is revealed as a work of extraordinary confidence and structural strength and subtlety. Schumann, when Brahms played it to him, wrote in his diary: “a genius”. It’s tempting to say the same of Francis. She’s certainly a pianist to watch.

David Cairns, Sunday Times 13 December 2009