Reviews

“Tom Poster embarks on the rustic reverie of the ‘Pastoral’ sonata with a poet’s tonal subtlety. He takes his time, seeking out the points of balance, finding the moments of suspension in the piece, rushing nothing. There’s an admirable sonority in his playing, recalling that of Solomon’s rendering of Beethoven. Like Solomon he refuses to break the flow, developing this vast, serene cantabile in which the play of ten fingers produces landscapes which seem infinite. His discretion is that of a true musician, his sense of tone and discourse is that of a bard. It’s unnecessary to say that he is as much at home in Schumann’s Waldszenen, walking the lost paths with disarming tenderness but impeccable technique. There’s always this linking of feeling and tone, always this lyrical, evocative discourse. For Tom Poster’s pianism steers clear of hammer-blows, relying simply on timbre, as, throughout, in his rendering of Chopin’s second Sonata – without pathos, classical in its line, possessed of a structural purity which spares the work the excesses of a superficial romanticism. Listen to the countermelodies of the first movement, the nobility of the Scherzo taken at tempo giusto and not hurried as it is with so many pianists who simply want to make an effect; or the subtle evocations of the Funeral March, or the line of flight and muted shades of the Finale. By way of epilogue Tom Poster adds Christ the Lord is Born, a little sound-picture lasting fifty-three seconds in which Janácek captures a serene pensiveness. Magical! With this dreamlike sonority, the phrase ‘on an overgrown path’ fits like a glove.”
Artamag’: Discophilia (translated from French), September 2015 (Light and Shadows CD)

“Beethoven’s Pastoral Sonata flows gently, tenderness balanced with sparkling fingerwork in the first movement, and a light touch that complements the lovely lilt of the finale. Poster’s dynamics are carefully graded, as is his pedaling, necessarily judicious in a generous though intimate acoustic… his crystalline, silvery tone suits [Schumann’s] strange Vogel als Prophet and Verrufene Stelle; and the Hunting Song bounds to life… Janácek’s brief Christ the Lord is Born emerges from the gloom, as described by the eloquent booklet notes, ‘fragmentary’ and ‘luminous’.”
BBC Music, September 2015 (Light and Shadows CD)

“After the interval came a second, rather more substantial premiere. Tom Poster was a passionately committed soloist in David Knotts’ Laments and Lullabies: a three-movement piano concerto built around a ferocious scherzo. Its taut, cyclical construction and modernist effects – shimmering string clusters, and the hollow boom of fingers swept across the piano’s bass strings – couldn’t conceal that this was a work with a pounding Romantic heart. The haunting final movement – a passacaglia-like meditation on The Flowers of the Forrest – could become a genuine hit, if other orchestras and audiences were imaginative enough to give it the hearing it deserves.”
Birmingham Post, September 2015 (Presteigne Festival closing concert)

“Presteigne is a festival predominantly devoted to today’s music and this often seems to bring a heightened response from performers to the classics of the past. The Navarra Quartet were joined by pianist Tom Poster for Dvorák’s Piano Quintet. All five performers were positively on fire for this imperishable romantic chamber work, playing with a passionate sweep that carried the audience along with them. A great evening.”
Hereford Times, September 2015

“Poster’s performance is well-nigh ideal, being bright, warm and affable… An attractive disc: Poster’s sleeve notes are a pleasure to read and Edition’s production and design values are typically strong.”
The Arts Desk, July 2015 (Light and Shadows CD)

“The light and shadows of Tom Poster’s new CD are traced through Beethoven’s D major (Pastoral) Sonata Op 28, Schumann’s Waldszenen Op 82, Chopin’s Second (Funeral March) Sonata and the tiny, poignant fragment that is Janácek’s arrangement of the Bohemian Christmas song Narodil se Kristus Pán. If this last testifies to Poster’s sensibility in programme planning and to his breadth of interests in the piano repertoire, so, too, does his choice of the Waldszenen, pieces that are themselves slightly in the shadows when compared with the popularity of other Schumann works. These nine miniatures create their images with remarkably economical strokes of the brush, but with a strong evocative focus as well. As Poster reveals through the thoughtful appreciation of colour and mood that also distinguishes his Beethoven and Chopin, these scenes of the forest range from the sinister to the serene, the juxtaposition of Verrufene Stelle (Haunted Spot) and Freundliche Landschaft (Friendly Landscape) showing that this is a forest of mystery as well as marvels. There are energetic hunting songs; there is the tender Abschied (Farewell), together with the exotic, luminous Vogel als Prophet (The Prophet Bird), in all of which Poster’s sense of character is tellingly astute.”
The Telegraph, June 2015 (Light and Shadows CD)

“… the impressions which remained from the Ligeti were of soloist Tom Poster’s muscular, even balletic, performance, and the sheer zeal of the remarkable BCMG players.”
Birmingham Post, October 2014 (Ligeti Concerto with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Nicholas Collon)

“… there are some fine performances on this album. Poster plays Schubert’s Impromptu in G-flat with unfailing sensitivity, as if it were a song without words. His rendition of the Schumann (Liszt) Widmung is both lyrically sweet and virtuosic. He gives a riveting performance of La Semaine Grasse from Stravinsky’s Petrouchka.”
American Record Guide, August 2014 (In Dance and Song CD)

“Tom Poster needed all the virtuosity at his disposal to tackle [the Korngold Quintet's] demands – which he did magnificently”
MusicWeb International, August 2014 (Three Choirs Festival with Aronowitz Ensemble)

“Tom Poster brought a warm virility to Grieg’s Piano Concerto, with a clean attack and lightning changes of mood. The first movement cadenza was fierce and formidable.”
Lark Reviews, June 2014 (Bexhill Festival with RPO)

“Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto was a treat from Tom Poster, who gave an incredibly satisfying account of this wonderful work. He revelled in the jazz elements, bringing them off with flair and vitality. It was an exciting account of the solo part, and he was the ideal counter for the exoticism and languid world of the slow movement.”
Classical Source, April 2014 (Barbican Hall with LSSO)

“This lovingly chosen recital – striking in both choice and performance – celebrates dance and song, key aspects of music down the centuries. Less robust or outgoing than many others, Tom Poster makes a haunting virtue of inwardness and refinement. His sound is warm and beguiling (Shura Cherkassky’s lament that too few pianists care about sound could never be levelled at him). His velvet-tipped sonority, his colour and nuance make something very special of the Gluck-Sgambati Dance of the Blessed Spirits and Ravel’s Pavane, while in Schubert’s G flat Impromptu his fluidity and balance between vocal line and rippling accompaniment are exceptional virtues. Again, in Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie, Poster sinks gratefully into repose and reverie (though his turn of speed in the build-up to the final climax finds him relishing one of Chopin’s most exultant gestures). He is sensitive to Grieg’s sophistication of simple folk beginnings in three of the Slåtter, reminding me for the second time in one month that these are arguably the composer’s finest creations, and further, a strong influence on Bartók. Highly sensitive to Kurtág’s assertion that ‘it is possible to create music with practically nothing’, he is hardly less successful where the virtuoso stakes are high (subtly so in Ravel’s Ondine, aggressively so in the third movement of Stravinsky’s Petrushka), though even here Poster tells us that discretion can be the better part of valour. He ends with his own transcription of Gershwin’s Someone to watch over me where, once again, he could hardly be more inward or empathetic. Poster writes his own excellent notes and Champs Hill’s sound is both warm and natural.”
Gramophone, April 2014 (In Dance and Song CD)

“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.”
BBC Music, March 2014 (In Dance and Song CD)

“… a musician of real subtlety and searching instincts… all of it delivered with classy judgement and a pianistic touch that manages to be both beautifully soft-edged and deftly commanding.”
The Big Issue, February 2014 (In Dance and Song CD)

“The Aronowitz Ensemble really are something very special… pianist Tom Poster joined the string players for a chamber version of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto. The playing was exemplary – especially Poster’s muscular, gratifyingly assertive vision of the solo part… thundering octaves and scintillating filigree decorations”
The Scotsman, September 2013 (Lammermuir Festival)

“Tom Poster’s Chopin Concerto was full of rhapsodic beauty”
The Herald, September 2013 (Lammermuir Festival)

“Tom Poster was on mercurially brilliant form throughout, with impressively fluid and well-shaped phrase characterisation… both artists really shone… electrifying intensity”
The Strad, June 2013 (Wigmore Hall, with Guy Johnston)

“A mesmeric performance by a top pianist was the main treat at Saturday’s penultimate concert in the Hallé Orchestra’s 2012-13 Pops Concert programme. The outstanding Tom Poster, three times a BBC Proms performer, took centre stage to play the Grieg Piano Concerto and carried off the entire performance with panache. Making his debut with the Hallé, 32-year-old Poster’s fingers flashed across the keyboard like lightning in a memorable performance.”
Oldham Chronicle, April 2013

“… it was to the enormous credit of the trio of musicians – the SCO’s principal horn, Alec Frank-Gemmill, pianist Tom Poster and respected tenor John Mark Ainsley – that their performances were so magnificently life-affirming, glowing with vivid colours and alive with crackling energy… Poster was the only performer onstage throughout, and his two solo Schubert impromptus sang with a ringing clarity.”
The Scotsman, April 2013

“Violinist Jennifer Pike, pianist Tom Poster and the Doric String Quartet have done much more than scratch the surface of [Chausson’s Concert]. They manage the questioning interplay of the first movement superbly, are elegantly lithe in the graceful Sicilienne and driven in the Finale. Nonetheless it is their handling of the gradually building tension in the slow movement, from disquiet to impassioned pleading via reflection and agitation, that marks this out as an especially fine performance. The dejected stillness of the coda is a masterpiece of hushed control.” (five stars)
BBC Music, April 2013 (Chandos recording)

“Tom Poster reminds us yet again why he’s so highly regarded as a chamber musician… A real front-runner for the [Chausson] Concert.”
Gramophone, May 2013 (Chandos recording)

“… Saint-Saëns’s Septet in E flat – really a miniature piano concerto with trumpet obbligato. Tom Poster, the ensemble’s composer-pianist, relished its ruffles and roulades – and then paid tribute to Saint-Saëns in a little carnival of the animals all his own. Turn to the watery world!, receiving its London premiere, was an exquisite ten-minute suite celebrating seven strange sea creatures. Edward Lear met Saint-Saëns in a phosphorescent musical underworld, as muted trumpet was chased by piano and pizzicato violin as the fanged Dragonfish; the gentle Dugong inspired a lugubrious chorale; and piano, trumpet and plucked cello busked their way through the Sea Urchin’s prickly jazz number.”
The Times, October 2012 (International Chamber Music Series, with Alison Balsom)

“… a marvellous recital in which Beamish, Bridge and Rachmaninov were stunningly served by the supremely talented young cellist Philip Higham and the ever-brilliant pianist Tom Poster”
Classical Source, September 2012

“The performance of Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A is if anything even more delectable… The Aronowitz players give it the most delicious lilt” (Editor’s Choice)
Gramophone, September 2012

“It was a shame that Pierre-Laurent Aimard had to withdraw as pianist due to a finger injury, but Tom Poster proved a more than adequate replacement. Poster, whose star is definitely rising, has established himself as one of the most exciting young British pianists, and his Brahms is remarkably mature. He copes admirably with the fistfuls of notes in the first two movements, and he brought plenty of sunlit delicacy to the finale. But it was the quieter moments that stuck with me more. In the Andante, as he gently ambled up and down the keyboard, he got in touch with this work at its most conversational, and his finest moment – perhaps the finest of the whole evening – was the spellbinding transition to the recapitulation of the first movement, delicate and tender, heart-stoppingly beautiful.”
MusicWeb International, January 2012 (with SCO/Ticciati)

“So it was a young man’s Brahms Two, lean and virile, with a daredevil, somewhat flamboyant approach from Poster… But the heavenly slow movement, graced by a complete absence of wallowing and blessed by the sublime, song-like, extended solos of principal cellist David Watkin, lifted the music to the highest plane.”
The Herald, January 2012 (with SCO/Ticciati)

“Rather more decorum prevailed throughout the masterly account of the concert’s main event, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto… three remarkable players… That all three are colleagues in the celebrated Aronowitz Ensemble doubtless accounted for their rapport, their observable joy in making music together.”
Oxford Times, January 2012 (with Lily Francis, Guy Johnston and City of Oxford Orchestra)

“Poster and the Elias Quartet got the fine balance between Elgar’s anguish (from his own inner landscape) and the solace provided by the English landscape. Their performance could hardly have been more passionate.”
The Guardian, November 2011

“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, July 2011 (Cheltenham Festival)

“… such an absurd abundance of talent in this ensemble…”
The Independent, March 2011 (Aronowitz Ensemble)

“From Maxwell Davies to Gershwin via late Beethoven, late Schubert, Janacek and Chopin; who could design such a recital programme and make sense of it? We know Steven Osborne could. But there is one other. Tom Poster, winner of the 2007 Scottish International Piano Competition, now an increasingly important and versatile figure on the UK music scene, returned to Glasgow on Thursday to give the opening recital in the 2010 competition. The man’s a marvel. He does radio, is a good presenter, and can play anything in any style… a supremely confident piece of programming… superb performance”
The Herald, September 2010

“For interpretive insight, it is the young lions who created the most impact. The performance of Hugh Wood’s Piano Trio, Op 24 by Thomas Gould, Marie Macleod and Tom Poster was wholly convincing: muscular but gently expressive in the moments of Ravel-like delicacy. The same players were just as solicitous of the textural detail in Cecilia McDowall’s The Colour of Blossoms.”
The Guardian, September 2010 (Presteigne Festival)

“The quintessence of Schubert is contained in the Trout Piano Quintet. Here, as elsewhere, the pianist, Tom Poster, showed consummate artistry.”
Malvern Gazette, May 2010

“… a blazing account on Friday of Ligeti’s blistering Piano Concerto, given a barnstorming performance by pianist Tom Poster in which the music’s jaggy, bouncy rhythms ricocheted off the City Hall walls as Poster, revelling in the resonances of Bartok and Ravel that propelled and coloured the music, splashed a generously-sized palette with fabulous colouring and, in the slower section, some genuinely haunting atmospheres.”
The Herald, April 2010 (with SCO/Ticciati)

“Soloist Tom Poster was a willing conspirator. His cut-glass performance emphasised the super-sensitised intensity of Ligeti’s nerve-jangling score, which was matched by Ticciati’s energised direction of the cut-down (though percussion-enhanced) orchestra. This is music that makes the hair stand up, which this performance achieved with uncompromising welter.”
The Scotsman, April 2010 (with SCO/Ticciati)

“Mr Poster’s playing is tempting beyond words”
Newtown Bee, March 2010

“The Elgar Piano Quintet, the most ambitious of his three late chamber works, has rarely sounded so cogent as here… superb playing and finely honed recording”
Gramophone, March 2010 (Aronowitz Ensemble)

“Natalie Clein, in superb partnership with pianist Tom Poster, produced a gripping performance of Delius’s Cello Sonata, steering a steady course through the variety of colour and mood in this melismatic work, bringing character and distinction to its often amorphous phrases, and building to its heroic conclusion with passion and technical aplomb. She was followed by Jennifer Pike, again with Poster, in a big-boned account of Elgar’s Violin Sonata, with mighty, impassioned climaxes in the first two movements as well as some wonderfully supple, nuanced playing in the second, and a finale mixing fire and reverie with a powerful sense of musical purpose.”
The Strad, November 2009 (BBC Proms)

“Stravinsky’s ballet Les Noces brought about a rousing and rollicking conclusion… Poster, Wass, Williams and Firsova were a dream team at the pianos.”
Musical Pointers, August 2009 (BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall)

“A thrilling performance of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto by Oxford’s brilliant young star Tom Poster was the high spot of the City of Oxford Orchestra’s St Valentine’s Day concert. A packed Sheldonian Theatre was treated to a stirring, romance-drenched account of a work which could hardly have been more suited to the occasion… [Poster] showed a special understanding of its subtleties.”
Oxford Times, February 2009

“Tennyson wrote of ‘Music that gentlier on the spirit lies, Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes’. The lines came to mind as the melody of Schubert’s Op. 90 G flat Major Impromptu, supported by its murmuring triplet accompaniment, seemed to weave its way into the hearts of an enraptured audience. It was Tom Poster’s aptly-chosen encore after a barnstorming performance of Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrouchka… [In Chopin’s Third Sonata,] the Bel Canto themes sang their hearts out, while the fleet passages of the Scherzo came across with quicksilver grace. The memorable theme of the Finale was delivered with magisterial authority… For some, [Brahms' Klavierstücke Op. 118] was the recital’s highlight, and indeed the playing had a rare distinction throughout… I shall look out for his name in future with keen anticipation.”
Keswick Reminder, January 2009

“The British pianist, Tom Poster, proved himself an unparalleled sound-magician. It was fascinating to observe the way he led the audience into the dreamworld of Schumann’s C Major Fantasy, for whose fragmented poetry he has a flawless instinct. A tender melancholy resonated from his performance of Schubert’s G flat major Impromptu, whose melody was not simply celebrated for its pathos but translated into delicate structural form. And in Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata, Poster opened the audience’s ears to the piece’s mysterious internal coherence, to the lucid dialogue in the Adagio and to the tonal magic of the Finale.”
General-Anzeiger, December 2005

“Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1… presented no problems last Saturday for Tom Poster, the 24-year-old rising star who already plays with the confidence and technical assurance of a veteran. Launching into that famous, gloriously majestic opening theme, Poster established his credentials early on, embracing the roller-coaster of emotions with exuberance and fluency. By contrast, the Andante semplice was treated with elegance and lightness of touch, before summoning up that earlier energy for the final Allegro con fuoco. Poster is not afraid to show his enjoyment, and all the players were swept along in the wake of his infectious enthusiasm. This was as virtuosic a display as you could hope for; a real tour de force.”
Oxford Times, July 2005

“I can recall few London debuts as exciting as this… a heroic interpretation of the [Brahms] G minor Piano Quartet. With the piano lid wide open, all four rose to the climaxes with seemingly limitless power. Yet there was also extraordinary delicacy, as Poster combined magically with the strings in the quieter passages of the first movement. There was further magic in the Intermezzo, broad phrasing at the ideal tempo in the slow movement and scintillating virtuosity in the Hungarian rondo… It is difficult to see how these fine players can greatly advance from this bridgehead. Let us hope we have many more chances to hear them attempt to do so.”
The Strad, March 2005 (Aronowitz Ensemble)

“Poster is clearly a musician with great potential to make a mark on the international scene.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 2005

“A prodigious talent… Quite amazing.”
Daily Post, July 2004

“A deeply thought out, original conception of the work [Beethoven Emperor Concerto]… Poster’s touch in the floating, cantilena melody of the Adagio was truly exquisite.”
Oxford Times, January 2004

“The real joy of the evening, however, was Tom Poster’s masterly account of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue… his lyrical, unforced interpretation… rhythmic subtleties and dreamy chords – for a moment, the Sheldonian became a Manhattan nightclub.”
Oxford Times, November 2003

“An artist of fastidious tonal refinement and rare musical intelligence… This was playing of great distinction, allying the necessary bravura to a strikingly beautiful sound and a keenly individual kaleidoscope of tonal colours.”
Dorset Echo, November 2003

“Tom Poster… displayed great authority and astounding virtuosity [in Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini]. The public, won over by the commanding presence of this young man, gave him a standing ovation.”
Est Républicain, March 2003

“… a pianist-composer of distinction…”
The Times, January 2002 (Park Lane Group)

“I caught a magnificent piano recital in the Friends Centre by 20-year-old Tom Poster, playing tumultuous Cesar Franck and ravishing Ravel with a maturity way beyond his years.”
Daily Mail, May 2001 (Brighton Festival)

“This was an enchanting performance… Poster is surely a natural exponent of 20th-century French music [Ravel's Concerto]; he understands the mixture of lucidity and inner tension, and has an ear for the most subtle dynamic gradations… Marvellous”
Oxford Times, February 2001

“Tom Poster’s performance of the Grieg [Concerto] was one of the most thoughtful I can recall… a limpid tonal purity not unlike Gieseking… There was all the evidence here, both technical and musical, of a major talent.”
Oxford Times, January 2001

“Tom Poster… stunned us with his interpretations of Liszt and Chopin. Such devastating confidence and love of his music is the mark of a star performer.”
Gulf Daily News, November 2000

Comments Off