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Grant Foster: The Pearl Of Dubai Suite; Ballad Of Reading Gaol [cd & Dvd]

Foster / Yevtich / Roldugin
Release Date: 10/09/2012 
Label:  Quartz Records   Catalog #: 2091   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Grant Foster
Performer:  Mira YevtichSergei RolduginAndrew Goodwin
Conductor:  Zaurbek Gugkaev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Novaya Rossia Symphony OrchestraHermitage Symphony OrchestraBelarusian Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FOSTER The Pearl of Dubai Suite. 1,2,4,5,6,7 The Ballad of Reading Gaol 1,3 & 1 Mira Yevtich (pn); 2 Sergey Roldugin (vc); 3 Andrew Goodwin (ten); 4 Zaurbek Gugkaev, cond; 5 Novaya Rossia SO; Read more class="SUPER12">6 Hermitage SO; 7 Belorussia SO QUARTZ 2091 (67:22)


& FOSTER Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: Anastasia. The Ballad of Reading Gaol


There are plenty of tonal composers in the world today. There is an acute shortage, however, of composers writing lush, romantic melodies. It’s almost as if most tonal composers have been intimidated by their atonal colleagues into producing music lacking melody and grace. Grant Foster does not fit that description. His music is filled with rich melodies that touch one’s sensibility and feed one’s emotions. I firmly believe that the ability to write melody represents the utmost distillation of a composer’s personality. It is the most concise musical definition of what a composer stands for. It also allows for the most effective means of providing a structure for musical composition. Foster, an Australian-born composer and pianist, produces all of this. He shamelessly and heartily takes his departure from Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. His melodic sensibility, however, is quite personal and different from theirs. I am reminded particularly of the soaring tunes in the film music of Maurice Jarre. Foster also is technically well grounded. His orchestration is transparent and rich. He constructs his compositions effectively and decisively. I really love this album. I was listening to it during Hurricane Sandy, and it delivered consolation and relief to my strained nerves. If you are almost ready to give up on contemporary music offering beauty and solace, you owe it to yourself to give Grant Foster a try.


The Pearl of Dubai Suite is a piece based on the legend that Anastasia, the daughter of Czar Nicholas and Alexandra, went to Dubai in 1916, while a stand-in was killed in her place at the execution of the royal family. The opening section, The Winter Palace: 1916-1918 , is a well-constructed symphonic poem. It opens with a mood of foreboding, and throughout the work there are interjections representing street violence. The main theme is one of beauty and regret for a lost world. There also is a lyrical, domestic theme. The Romance for Cello and Orchestra: Nicholas and Alexandra is wonderfully intimate love music. The cello part sounds gentle and confiding—and Sergey Roldugin plays it beautifully. As love music this is tender rather than filled with burning desire. A central orchestral portion is highly nostalgic. This would be a very effective addition to the cello repertoire. The brief Dubai is a splendid Near Eastern genre piece, in the mold of Albert Ketelbey. It’s the sort of thing Arthur Fiedler would have loved to conduct. Lastly, the Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: Anastasia is the most substantial piece on the album. It is a true, free form fantasy. The texture reminds me of d’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Air . The piano part is mainly meditative rather than heroic. Mira Yevtich possesses a complete command of Foster’s idiom. She plays with lovely tone, sensitive phrasing, and an acute feeling for the shifting moods of the work.


Foster’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a setting of the first seven stanzas of the poem by Oscar Wilde. They deal with the impending execution of a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards. Foster’s ability to spin out long vocal lines is impressive. Andrew Goodwin and Yevtich are sensitive to the work’s heartache and shifting shades of gray. At the line “The man had killed the thing he loved,” Yevtich delivers pealing bells from the piano’s bass. The accompanying DVD contains splendid live performances of the Fantasy and the Ballad . Following the former, Yevtich receives well deserved rhythmic applause from the audience in Minsk. Throughout the CD and DVD, conductor Zaurbek Gugkaev secures warm and committed playing from all three orchestras he conducts. The sound engineering on CD and DVD is generally excellent, greatly abetting the beauty of Foster’s orchestral settings. I have little doubt that Grant Foster is an important composer. He really can pull at your heart strings. There certainly is a place for more agitated contemporary music than Foster’s, but his is a voice we sorely need. Nothing is simpler or more complex at the same time as beauty, and Foster delivers it.


FANFARE: Dave Saemann
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Works on This Recording

1. The Pearl of Dubai, suite for cello, piano & orchestra by Grant Foster
Performer:  Mira Yevtich (Piano), Sergei Roldugin (Cello)
Conductor:  Zaurbek Gugkaev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Novaya Rossia Symphony Orchestra
Period: Contemporary 
Length: 56 Minutes 5 Secs. 
2. The Ballad of Reading Gaol, for voice & piano by Grant Foster
Performer:  Mira Yevtich (Piano), Andrew Goodwin ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hermitage Symphony Orchestra
Period: Contemporary 
Date of Recording: 08/15/2011 
Length: 10 Minutes 32 Secs. 
3. Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: Anastasia by Grant Foster
Performer:  Mira Yevtich (Piano)
Conductor:  Zaurbek Gugkaev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belarusian Philharmonic Orchestra

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