Review: Tom Poster, piano, United Reformed Church, Cockermouth

Roaring winds and heavy rain did their best to hinder the arrival of music lovers who came to the United Reformed Church to hear Tom Poster play for Cockermouth Music Society.

By the end of the evening, the determined ones who made it were completely convinced that their efforts had been worth it, having heard a superlative performance from a wonderful musician.

Tom has hands that can encompass any music, however demanding, and the power to produce incredible sound which was at all times carefully controlled with all the dynamic variation required.

Starting with Beethoven’s Sonata in E flat Op 7, the music ebbed and flowed with all the excitement one associates with this composer. Then Tom proved himself to be well able to talk interestingly and amusingly about his programme.

Impromptus by Liszt, Mussorgsky and Schubert followed, all so different and yet in the same genre, each piece lovingly and brilliantly dealt with by the pianist, who at all times seemed to be at one with his playing, his fingers flying over the keys to give us such clear, sound pictures which I am sure the composers would have fully approved.

Then came contrasting Nocturnes by three famous female musicians of the nineteenth century, Maria Szymanowska, Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann, lovely song-like sound and enjoyable, but who could fail to appreciate that the Chopin Nocturne that followed them was by the greatest composer of them all?

With the marvels of musical invention and beauty contained in the piece one can understand why he holds the place he does in the spectrum of composers. Ravel’s La Valse, which completed the recital, was quite simply a tour de force.

How two hands could encompass the number of notes and the incredible speed and power of this piece was a wonder to behold, but Tom’s flying fingers gave us all the notes and all the magnificence of Ravel’s tribute to the waltz.

The pianist played as if possessed by the music, lost in a world we could only marvel at, as he smiled through the themes and invited us into a lost world of whirling dancers.

Great applause provoked a Gershwin encore, a transcription by the pianist, played with loving admiration of yet another great composer, to add to the delights of a memorable evening.