In Dance and Song

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Grieg; Bartok; Kurtag; Gluck; Stravinsky; Schubert; Chopin; Ravel; Liszt; Gershwin/Poster
LABELS: Champs Hill Records
ALBUM TITLE: In Dance and Song
WORKS: Works by various composers inc. Grieg, Bartok & Kurtag
PERFORMER: Tom Poster (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHRCD 075

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In this very personal recital, taking the idea of dance and song in the broadest sense, pianist Tom Poster offers an immersive, rewarding listen. He has picked favourite selections from Gluck to Kurtág in a vivid mixture, structured cleverly so that the flow feels natural while remaining full of surprises. The title could expand to include the word ‘transcriptions’, as these prove equally vital, whether Grieg and Bartók’s piano versions of traditional songs and dances, virtuoso adaptations of Schumann songs and Stravinsky’s ballet music, or Poster’s own gorgeous version of Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’.

One excellent thing about such a programme is that pieces are chosen because they inspire the performer’s affection; there’s no suggestion of dutiful addition or ‘completeness’ for the sake of it. Therefore every work can shine in its own right, letting Poster bring out its best. He polishes each one up to a spotless sheen, with a beautiful tone that you can sink into like a pile of cushions.

The emphasis is perhaps more on the song element than the dance, but elements of high drama creep in with a heartfelt Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie, a suitably other-worldly ‘Ondine’ from Ravel’s Gaspard and a colourful fairground whirl from Petrushka. The one that can break your heart, though – in the best way – is Poster’s concluding Gershwin. He is never a flashy player, even in the most demanding numbers, eschewing overt display in favour of heart and soul. Result: a recital that is both lovely and lovable.

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Jessica Duchen