The music on
this desk may remind one of that of Michael Nyman: music
that is not “light classical” or film music but that while
attractive, seems to be lacking a certain element that one
normally associates with “serious” music. Regardless, Foster
shows a variety of moods, textures and subject matter (as
varied as Harrods and Dubai). Foster was born in Sydney in
1945, studied in Britain and after return to Australia has
written a number of orchestral and chamber works that have
been very well received.
As one might
guess, Foster likes to travel. Before going anywhere for
the first time he writes a short piece to imagine what the
place to be visited will be like. This is the genesis for
the Four Voyages for Piano
which progresses from a
light-hearted but undistinctive Buenos Aires
to the Moscow
Doctor Zhivago. Venice
is more interesting with its
deliberate courting of clichés and Marrakech
substantial although Paul Bowles and John Alden Carpenter
have nothing to fear. Mira Yevtich’s playing is quite impressive:
controlled and with beautiful alternations of legato and
is more of a symphonic poem on the joys of
life. It has an attractive main theme, but does not leave
one impressed overall. The Ballade for Piano and Violin
much more of an impact. It is Rachmaninoff-like in style
- appropriate since it’s dedicated to Ms. Yevtich - and
has an interesting manipulation of thematic material through
its three movements. The piano is as important as the violin
and the writing for the piano is skilled, if a little sentimental.
Especially good is the synthesis of the work’s material
in the coda of the last movement. Unfortunately the sound
of the violin is extremely distant and this factor definitely
detracts from the overall impression.
for Piano and Orchestra
contains some moments of genuine
distinction along with many that are little better than ‘Europop’.
It also has a complicated structure of great interest and
a few native Australian elements. In addition to the CD
recording there is a separate DVD of a live performance
of the piece with the same performers. The sound here is
surprisingly good, if a little too close to the piano.
For me the music
on this disc is somewhat lacking both intellectually and
formally, but it does have a lot of heart and is well written.
It is also finely served by Ms. Yevtich who has the wide
emotional range required here. The orchestra is quite competent
and nicely recorded. This is a disc that one may not run
out immediately to get, but which one will play more than
once if you have it.
see also review by Rob Barnett