Light and Shadows
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 Pastoral [26:13]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Waldszenen, Op. 82 [22:46]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35 Marche funčbre [22:55]
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Narodil se Kristus Pán (Christ the Lord is born) [0:53]
Tom Poster (piano)
rec. 21-22 December 2014, Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton, UK

It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to review a solo disc by Tom Poster. Whilst we lived in Oxford I heard him play at several concerts in the marvellous Sheldonian Theatre. The performance of Beethoven’s Emperor was especially memorable and we hoped at the time that his early promise would be fulfilled; this pleasingly diverse collection is ample proof that it has been.

There are so many recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and any newcomer must face comparisons with the greats who’ve gone before. Right from the start of the Pastoral any doubts disappear. This is quite simply a lovely performance and I was moved by playing and the intimacy that Poster conveys. He is undoubtedly helped by a very clear recording that captures the, not always easy sound of the piano. The first movement is sublime and I was particularly taken by the Andante, second movement, as the theme develops. He brings out a kind of humour in the Scherzo which is most effective. The Sonata is brought to an intensely satisfying conclusion with the Rondo that, however many times one hears it, takes the listener into another world. This would be an ideal recording for those who have never been fortunate to hear it before and makes me look forward to more Beethoven from this pianist.

Robert Schumann was much influenced by Beethoven, so it seems highly appropriate to have one of his works next in this recital. Waldszenen, which conveys Schumann’s romantic view of the forest is not, as Tom Poster comments in his very good notes, one of the composer’s most performed works but it receives a fine performance here. There are certain similarities to the far more popular Kinderszenen but these “Forest Scenes” are, if possible, more personal. The episodes vary from the stormy to the dreamlike and take us into a special world. I am always aware of a sense of pathos with Schumann and there are certain moments when you feel the heart of the composer exposed. As with the Beethoven, Poster is very much his own man and there is no need for comparisons.

The qualities that are present in the first two pieces certainly manifest themselves again in the Chopin Funeral March Sonata. The first two movements are very successful and then we have the famous movement which here is played with just the right amount of emotion; it is as if one is hearing it for the first time. This is a triumph of a performance and I look forward to hearing other Chopin works. The Janacek which concludes the recital is lovely and surprised me by its brevity.

This is an excellent collection from and I look forward to hearing more from Poster very soon. For those who like a mixed selection beautifully played.
David R Dunsmore

Previous review: Roy Westbrook

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