Today, three former BBC Young Musician competition finalists announce they have joined forces to record Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. “Scotland’s darling and British musical royalty” (The Sunday Times) violinist Nicola Benedetti, “Genius” pianist (The Spectator) Benjamin Grosvenor, and “Cello Rockstar” (Esquire) Sheku Kanneh-Mason  unite for an album that also includes recordings of Beethoven’s folk songs with Gerald Finley. Set to be released on May 31st via Decca Classics, this is the first recording of the work on the label.

The Triple concerto is a musical paradox that’s all about collaboration, and whose real virtuosity is the listening between the soloists and across the orchestra rather than the individual brilliance of the players. Nicola Benedetti, Benjamin Grosvenor, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason performed the work in the UK in 2023 where “Far from another battle royal, the three former Young Musician finalists come together in a mutual celebration of their three instruments,” and they were “working in harmony without losing any of their distinct personalities. Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason was the lyrical dreamer, violinist Nicola Benedetti was the lively energizer, and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor acted as a quicksilver mediator between the two. Their approach was virtuosic, sympathetic, and full of character” (The Sunday Times).

The trio gathered in London in June last year, shortly after a live performance at the Royal Festival Hall and recorded the album with the Philharmonia and their Principal Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali. Beethoven never wrote a cello concerto, but it’s the cello who’s given the first solos in each of the three movements, playing the main tunes in each. In the breathtaking A flat major oasis of the Largo, the cellist’s rapt, sublime playing lasts more than a third of the duration of the whole movement. Not that the violinist and pianist don’t have their chances to shine too, in the irresistible march of the first movement, and in the finale, there are some breathtaking moments of improvisatory abandon as the tune is passed around all three of them, each pushing the other to ever more vertiginous flights of energy and imagination. This freedom allows them to make music in the moment, creating a gigantic chamber ensemble, and their collaborative virtuosity makes it one of the most joyful pieces that Beethoven ever composed.

That generosity of spirit carries into the trio’s performances of Beethoven’s rarely performed Folk Songs with celebrated baritone Gerald Finley. Music from Benedetti’s Scotland and Kanneh-Mason’s beloved Wales, and inspired by Finley’s Orcadian ancestry, rounds out the programme. The album concludes with a track featuring the trio alone: Kreisler’s arrangement of ‘Londonderry Air’ more commonly known as ‘Danny Boy.’

The three classical superstars are busier than ever, with Nicola Benedetti, who just announced her second season as the Festival Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, the first Scot and woman appointed to this role. One of the most sought-after violinists of her generation, Nicola champions the commissioning of new works, which has recently included Mark Simpson’s critically acclaimed Violin Concerto, written for her with the London Symphony Orchestra, and Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto, which won a GRAMMY Award for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” in 2020.

This recording is Benjamin Grosvenor’s eighth for Decca Classics since 2011, when he became the youngest musician – and also the first British pianist in more than sixty years – to sign to the label. Since then he has won inter alia several Gramophone Awards, the prestigious Diapason d’Or de l’année twice, Classica ‘Chocs de l’année’ and Prix de Caecilia. Gramophone recently acknowledged him as one of the top 50 pianists ever on record. Highlights of the last few months include his debut at the Berlin Philharmonie with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, a solo recital debut at Chicago Symphony Center, including the US premiere of Brett Dean’s ‘Faustian Pact’, and two recitals at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, focusing on the music of Chopin and Liszt.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason was recently declared by Bachtrack as ‘the most in-demand cellist in the world’. Highlights for him this year include four consecutive concerto performances in early May with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center. This leads on to a major European recital tour with his pianist sister Isata before he returns to the US for performances with Detroit Symphony and San Francisco Symphony orchestras.  He is the newly appointed patron of music charity Music Masters whom he has supported over the last seven years, and ambassador to charities Future Talent and JDRF.  This is his fifth recording for Decca Classics, his 2020 recording ‘Elgar’ reaching No.8 in the Official UK Album Chart, making him the first cellist in the history of the UK Charts to break into the Top 10. Sheku has accumulated over 215 million global streams.

Reflecting on this collaboration, Sheku Kanneh-Mason says: “It was an absolute joy and privilege to make music for the first time with two musicians I grew up admiring. I first heard them both on television in the finals of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004, and like many participants and winners in that competition, they became massive inspirations to me. I saw Nicola Benedetti perform live for the first time when I was a child when she came to play a Mozart violin concerto in Nottingham, and that was a very memorable experience. Of course I knew her playing before and since via the many recordings she has made. Likewise with Benjamin, I was obsessed with his Chopin, Liszt and Ravel album when that came out several years ago, and have had the pleasure of seeing him perform live many times. So it really was such a special moment for me to perform and record the Beethoven Triple concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra (an orchestra with whom I have collaborated several times before) and their principal conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali. It’s a piece full of so much spirit, playfulness and life, and I love the combination of intimate chamber music-like conversations between the 3 soloists, and the colourful and powerful sound of the orchestra.”