When Love Speaks

28/07/2016
RON BIERMAN
Music & Vision

CD Spotlight

Piano music by Grant Foster -

warmly recommended

When Australian Grant Foster's career as a concert pianist was interrupted by an injury, he began to concentrate on composition. He is both composer and performer on this release. In album notes he says, 'Especially rewarding for me in this recording is that it brings my two careers, my two loves, together again.' Whether or not listeners feel as rewarded as the composer will depend heavily on their fondness for neo-romanticism. Many will revel in Rachmaninov-like melodies and harmonies; some may gag on moments of cinematic sentimentality. But only a truly curmudgeonly academic could dislike this sort of lovely gentle theme. Listen — Grant Foster: Romance in C sharp major (track 1, 3:54-5:28)

'Thank you, sir. Please, can I have another?' Of course! The disk is filled with such deeply-felt moments.

Listen — Grant Foster: Romance in C (track 2, 1:20-2:37)

Foster's sonata is the most extended of the dozen pieces here. The composer says of it, 'I have tried to capture the utter despair and anger, the loss and emptiness that culminates from war.' The final third movement broods before storming to a conclusion.

Listen — Grant Foster: Allegro vivace (Piano Sonata) (track 5, 4:58-6:19)

Elegy builds in intensity relieved by the return of a limpid falling melody. Listen — Grant Foster: Elegy (track 6, 3:52-5:28)

Bydlo, the fourth movement of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, represents Viktor Hauptman's painting of teamed oxen trudging inexorably forward while pulling a heavily-laden cart. Foster's work of the same name captures inexorable trudging annoyingly well.

Listen — Grant Foster: Bydlo (track 7, 0:02-1:25)

All of the recording's six preludes are in a deeply pensive mood. The fourth is the most immediately attractive.

Listen — Grant Foster: Prelude No 4 (track 10, 0:01-0:55)

Ballade is the final work on the program and, at nearly fifteen minutes, by far the longest after the sonata. It is in the romantically reflective mood of most of the recording and begins with left-hand rumbling and a simple melody in the right.

Listen — Grant Foster: Ballade (track 14, 0:02-1:51)

The piece builds to a vigorous ending, the bass line still prominent.

Listen — Grant Foster: Ballade (track 14, 12:37-14:06)

Ballade describes a love affair. Foster again, '... the gentle enchantment of whispers of love at the beginning, the building passion of the coming together as one, and, when love ends, there is always anger.'

'Does all of that make me a romantic composer?' Grant's words and melody-rich music leave no doubt... this romantic and deeply-felt piano recital is warmly recommended to all but the most musically austere.