Tom Foster, Harpsichord
Tom Foster, Harpsichord
ZACHOW Prelude and Fugue in F Major
FROBERGER Canzona in D Minor, FbWV 301
FROBERGER Partita in D Major, FbWV 611
HANDEL Suite in F Major, HWV 427
MATTHESON Sonata in G Major
HANDEL Chaconne in G Major, HWV 435
MUFFAT Suite No. 1 in C Major
HANDEL Suite No. 5 in E Major, HWV 430
In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.
At a Glance
Tom Foster’s overview of German Baroque keyboard music spans roughly a century, from Johann Jacob Froberger’s intricately contrapuntal Canzona in D Minor to Gottlieb Muffat’s breezy, Gallic-flavored Suite No. 1 in C Major. In contrast to Froberger, a progressive who bridged the Renaissance and Baroque eras, the stylistically conservative Muffat remained faithful to fugues, instrumental dance suites, and other forms characteristic of the early 18th century. Like Froberger, George Frideric Handel made a major contribution to the genre of the dance-based instrumental suite: His debut collection of harpsichord suites, in which the two examples on tonight’s program appeared, was a best-seller when it was published in 1720.
In addition to charting the development of the suite, Mr. Foster’s program illustrates the web of reciprocal influences that united German composers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, who taught Handel as a boy, helped shape both his mature style and that of J. S. Bach. Johann Mattheson emulated his close friend Handel in the operas, oratorios, and other sacred music he wrote as music director of Hamburg Cathedral. Handel “borrowed” (we might say stole) some of Muffat’s music for his own works, and the younger composer returned the compliment by hand-copying several of Handel’s harpsichord suites and adding French-style ornamentation.
Tom Foster has a busy career performing on harpsichord and organ as both a continuo player and a soloist, and in recent years, he has worked as a conductor as well. He is the principal keyboard player with The English Concert. In addition, he plays regularly as a guest with the Academy of Ancient Music, Arcangelo, Dunedin Consort, Early Opera Company, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Scottish Ensemble, and The Sixteen. He performs for chamber music recitals as well as with trumpeter Alison Balsom, recorder player Tabea Debus, and flutist Georgia Browne. His many musical collaborations have taken him to concert halls throughout Australia, Europe, Russia, South Korea, and the US.
Mr. Foster is proud to have been the first British harpsichordist since Matthew Halls to be awarded a place with the European Union Baroque Orchestra in 2011. In 2013, at the age of 26, he directed the music for the inaugural show The Duchess of Malfi at the newly built Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London, and in 2015, he founded Opera Settecento, directing the company’s first shows and receiving critical acclaim. He has worked as an assistant conductor to Christian Curnyn, Laurence Cummings, and Jonathan Cohen for opera productions at Iford Arts, Buxton Opera House, and Garsington Opera.
Mr. Foster began his music education as a choirboy at Manchester Cathedral and as a pianist at Chetham’s School of Music. He holds degrees in music from St. Catherine’s College Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with Trevor Pinnock.