J. B. Foerster: Dreams, Memories and Impressions - The complete music for solo piano / Patricia Goodson


Right from the opening track, Dreaming, by Josef Bohuslav Foerster, it amazes that this superb release from Brilliant Classics is the first time the composer's solo piano music is appearing on CD. J. B. Foerster (as he is often referred to) was a Czech composer, eighteen years the junior of Antonín Dvořák and a relative contemporary of Janáček, Novák, Fibich and Suk. Together with these composers, Foerster shared in the evolution of Czech music from 19th century nationalism to the avant garde of the early 20th century. American pianist and Prague resident Patricia Goodson performs beautifully on this set of Foerster's complete solo piano music. Titled Dreams, Memories and Impressions, this is a significant addition to the CD catalog and should not be overlooked.

This music was composed over a nearly sixty-year period, between 1885 and 1942. While there are certainly differences between the early and late works, these differences are relatively subtle and seem related to stylistic developments, not to the adoption of any especially different means of expression. Structured in traditional forms and harmony, his earlier pieces are mannered after late Classical and early Romantic models, recalling Schumann and Mendelssohn. In his middle and late works, forms are more rhapsodic and harmonies become softly chromatic, even quite close at times. Harmonies can progress for brief periods in unpredictable and interesting ways; however, they are always resolved in a manner that seems natural and restores the music's tonal center.

The samples in the sidebar for you to hear are movements one and two of Pages from my Diary, a relatively early work dating from 1890. Listen as melody and harmony meld in Foerster's charming and slightly melancholic music. Its gorgeous stuff - and seeing as you don't already own it, and that you can get the set of four CDs at HBDirect for under $20 - it's also an obvious acquisition.

Pianist Patricia Goodson performs Foerster's Impressions No. 2