Clifford performed with the choir in its Summer Love Songs & Jazz concert in June 2003.
“I was lost in admiration for the elegance of Clifford Benson’s playing“. Gramophone
“The evening’s pianist was Clifford Benson who played as if he had composed the music himself, here and in older works as well.” The Times
“Clifford Benson showed himself an equally graceful and adept pianist in every style required of him.” Sunday Times
Clifford Benson, who is the pianist performing with the choir at their concerts in March 2003.
Clifford is probably unusual as a pianist, in that his career spans the whole range of the piano repertoire. He performs as a soloist in recitals and concertos, as a chamber musician with long-standing colleagues William Bennett, Trevor Wye, Levon Chilingirian and Thea King, and as an accompanist, in particular with the baritone Stephen Varcoe.
Clifford is known for his outstanding musicianship and sensitivity, his strong feeling for poetry and colour, and for the passion that he imparts in his performing and teaching.
He was born in Essex, England, and studied at the Royal College of Music with Cyril Smith and Lamar Crowson. Whilst there, he was awarded the Chopin Sonata Prize, the Geoffrey Tankard Lieder Prize for Accompaniment, and the Tagore Gold Medal as the outstanding musician of his final year. A Martin Music Fund Scholarship, awarded by the New Philharmonia Orchestra, enabled him to further his studies.
With the violinist Levon Chilingirian, he was first prize-winner in the BBC Beethoven and the Munich International Duo Competitions, which led to numerous collaborations with prestigious artists, to solo and chamber music recitals and to recordings for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM.
Clifford was the pianist for the Jacqueline du Pré masterclasses on BBC 2 television and has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at the Proms. A member of the Nash Ensemble for many years, he enjoyed a wide-ranging repertoire, performing with such artists as Cleo Laine, Eartha Kitt, Marion Montgomery, Sarah Walker, John Taverner and Sir Simon Rattle. He has also worked with conductors Sir Charles Mackerras, George Hurst, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Neville Marriner.
Clifford enjoys composing and has given some notable world premières of other contemporary composers, including:
- Richard Rodney Bennett’s Three Romantic Pieces on a BBC Pebble Mill live broadcast.
- Malcolm Lipkin’s Sonata No 4 for BBC Bristol.
- The London première of Lipkin’s Second Violin and Piano Sonata in December 2000 with Levon Chilingirian and several first performances of works by F L Dunkin Wedd.
As a recording artist, Clifford has encompassed a whole range of styles from Mozart to the present day. Apart from his recordings for Hyperion, specialising in English music, he has covered much of the flute and piano repertoire with William Bennett and Trevor Wye, and has recorded other combinations for Chandos, CRD and Deutsche Grammophon.
Clifford currently teaches solo piano and gives piano chamber music workshops at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He has adjudicated at many music festivals, at the major colleges of music in Britain, and has been a panel member for the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Travelling for much of the year, he has given recitals and masterclasses in Europe, the Middle and Far East, the USA and Canada.