Music by Mozart, Kurtag, Schubert and Chopin
Photo: Sussie Ahlburg
Fantasy in C minor
Sonata in A (D.664)
The Four Ballades
Tom Poster,one of our foremost young British pianists, gave an outstanding recital on Sunday afternoon 10th. January.
Starting with the well known Mozart C minor Fantasy K.475,one was immediately struck by the neatness and clear precision of his playing.
Apart from an occasional tendency to lean backwards, there was no affectation in his demeanour, only rapt concentration and the ability to produce a great range of dynamic contrasts where necessary, and always with a beautiful tone.
Three very short pieces by the eighty nine year old Hungarian composer Kurtag entitled "Jatekok" followed, and again showed the pianist`s remarkable ability to produce a singing tone with whatever degree of sonority was required. The last of these three miniatures was apparently written with Franz Schubert in mind and led perfectly into the sublime Schubert three movement sonata in A major D.664.
This so called "Little Sonata" written in 1819 starts the first movement with a lyrical melody ideally suited to the pianist`s cantabile touch, continues with a plaintive slow middle section, and finishes with a joyous Rondo with the theme being interspersed with brilliant running semi-quaver passages all played seamlessly.
After the interval, the second half was devoted to all four of the Chopin Ballades, which, considering the difficulty of these works was quite an undertaking and it is most unusual to present all four at once. Decidedly romantic in character they are probably best described as abstract "tone poems". Full of lush melodies they are beloved of amateur pianists who delight in playing the parts of which they are capable, but as in most Chopin, these latter sections are often separated by passages of transcendental difficulty ! Written over the course of about ten years between 1833-1843 in keys of G minor, F major A flat major and F minor, probably number three in A flat is the least difficult and the hardest, number four, although numbers one and two are no sinecure !
Regardless of the hazards and tenacity required to tackle all four at once, Tom Poster proved that he was easily up to the task and showed that his abilities and musicianship were of the highest order. The only concession that he made was a slightly longer break between numbers two and three in order to wipe his brow with a spotless white handkerchief!
As an encore, Tom delighted us with his own arrangement of Gershwin`s "The man I love" which of course was most beautifully and sensitively played to conclude another splendid occasion.
“And what can I say about the excellent Tom Poster? His versatility and unerring sense of what works best marks him out as a musician’s musician and everyone in the business should be beating a path to his door”
– MusicWeb International, Cheltenham Festival 2011
Tom Poster is internationally recognised as a pianist of outstanding artistry and versatility, equally in demand as soloist and chamber musician across an unusually extensive repertoire. He has been described as “a marvel, [who] can play anything in any style” (The Herald), “an unparalleled sound-magician” (General-Anzeiger), a “young lion” (The Guardian), and as possessing “great authority and astounding virtuosity” (Est Républicain). He won First Prize at the Scottish International Piano Competition 2007, the Ensemble Prize at the Honens International Piano Competition 2009, and the keyboard sections of the Royal Over-Seas League and BBC Young Musician of the Year Competitions in 2000.
Since his London concerto debut at the age of 13, Tom has appeared in a wide-ranging concerto repertoire of over 30 major works, including Beethoven with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, Brahms and Ligeti with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Robin Ticciati, Chopin with the European Union Chamber Orchestra, Grieg with the Hallé at Bridgewater Hall and the China National Symphony in Beijing, John Ireland with the State Capella Philharmonic in St Petersburg, Rachmaninov with the BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier and BBC Scottish Symphony/James Loughran, Schumann with the Atlantic Classical Orchestra in Florida, Beethoven Triple with Southbank Sinfonia/Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Scott Bradley’s Cat Concerto with Aurora Orchestra/Nicholas Collon.
Tom features regularly on BBC Radio 3 as soloist and chamber musician, and appeared in both capacities at the BBC Proms in 2008, 2009 and 2011. He has given solo recitals at the Barbican Hall and at the Brighton, City of London, Edinburgh, Presteigne and Spoleto Festivals, as well as in Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. Tom enjoys duo partnerships with Alison Balsom, Guy Johnston and Jennifer Pike, has recently collaborated with Ian Bostridge at the Aldeburgh Festival and Steven Isserlis at Wigmore Hall, and has performed piano quintets with the Badke, Brodsky, Carducci, Elias, Endellion, Martinu, Medici, Navarra, Sacconi and Skampa Quartets. As pianist of the Aronowitz Ensemble (BBC New Generation Artists 2006-2008), he has appeared at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Aldeburgh, Bath and Cheltenham Festivals, and on several occasions at Wigmore Hall. The Aronowitz Ensemble’s two CDs on the Sonimage label have received great critical acclaim, as have Tom’s two recent discs for Chandos, including Chausson’s Concert with Jennifer Pike and the Doric Quartet. His debut solo CD, In Dance and Song, was released on Champs Hill Records in January 2014.
Alongside his busy pianistic career, Tom has presented programmes on Beethoven and Schumann for BBC Radio Scotland, appeared as guest expert in BBC Four’s coverage of the Leeds International Piano Competition, given lecture-recitals at the Two Moors Festival and masterclasses at Dartington International Summer School, acted as Artistic Director of Chacombe Music Festival, and appeared as Reciter in Walton’s Façade at Musicfest Aberystwyth. Tom’s arrangements of Gershwin and Cole Porter songs have been extensively performed and recorded. Recent commissions undertaken as a composer include a chamber opera for puppets, The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak, for Wattle and Daub theatre company, and a piece about unusual sea-creatures, Turn to the Watery World!, for Alison Balsom.
Born in 1981, Tom studied with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he held a Postgraduate Fellowship, and at King’s College, Cambridge, where he gained a Double First in Music.