When Love Speaks

Stephanie Eslake
Limelight (Australia)
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Hitting play on Grant Foster’s world premiere recordings – When Love Speaks – I am nicely settled and ready to pen my review. What I am not ready for is the raw romance of this solo pianist and composer; to be struck and emotionally swayed by his music in less than five seconds flat

What is this beautiful work? Romance in C Sharp Minor brings us the feel of its title, and holds nothing back – while powerful, it exposes a vulnerability that reaches the heart. Romance in C follows, leading us into a gentler introspection, a pure melody line with just enough harmonic support tells us its story; Foster continues this style through each piece. We hear rises and falls one would expect from Romantic works written more than a century ago. Foster’s music is ambitiously reminiscent of the greats, notably Chopin and Rachmaninov, but with an accessible human touch.

I nearly leap out of my seat when I hear the Piano Sonata, which opens with a darkness successfully indicative of its dedication to those lost in war. Elegy is a stirring homage to Sir Robert Helpmann; and Six Preludes, like much of Foster’s work, is composed for those people who have affected his life.

As for Foster’s playing, it can’t be removed from his composition: it is precious, and this is because it makes us feel. Listen to this album, but you’ve been warned – prepare to be moved by this unrelenting outpouring of one man’s spirit.