Recordings

 
Impromptu

Impromptu
ONYX4172
Release date: May 5, 2017

This spring, pianist Shai Wosner’s latest solo album, Impromptu, is released on Onyx Classics. The recording, which features improvisationally inspired works by seven different composers, marks Mr. Wosner’s fourth solo recital recording for Onyx and his sixth recording for the label overall. He performs Schubert’s Four Impromptus, D935; Chopin’s Impromptus, Op. 29, 36, and 51; Beethoven’s Fantasy in G, Op. 77; Liszt’s Impromptu (Nocturne), S191; Dvořák’s Impromptu in D minor, B129; Gershwin’s Impromptu in Two Keys; and Ives’s Improvisations for piano, I and III. Available via iTunes, Amazon.com, and other music retailers, the recording was released in the U.K. on Friday, April 7, and will be available in the U.S. on Friday, May 5.

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“Those familiar with Wosner’s two previous CDs, devoted primarily to Schubert, will find in these D935 Impromptus the same heartfelt lyricism and ultra-refined pianism. … [In Beethoven’s Fantasia] Wosner vividly suggests the white-hot inspiration that we know from historical accounts to have been a quality of Beethoven’s improvisations. This reading couldn’t sound more original or spontaneous had it been created on the spot. … Don’t miss this satisfying listen!” Gramophone

“By marshalling [these impromptus] together Wosner says something interesting about them: each may be a social misfit in normal company, but here can be seen as belonging to a clearly defined genre. … Schubert's F minor Impromptu becomes a dreamlike flow ... to [Beethoven's Fantasy] Wosner brings a whiff of gunpowder. The Liszt becomes a meditation on a chord; the second Ives piece twinkles, glows, and glowers; the Chopin pieces are given ravishingly delicate colouring; the Gershwin emerges as a silkily-delivered joke; the little Dvořák piece is bursting with ideas. … this CD is bewitching.”
5/5 stars BBC Music Magazine

“Shai Wosner isn’t just a pianist of agility and insight, though obviously that’s nothing to sneeze at. But he has also embarked on a series of witty and engagingly structured recording projects that draw intriguing connections among various slices of the keyboard repertoire. Fresh on the heels of his exploration of the comic angles of Haydn and Ligeti comes “Impromptu,” a baker’s dozen of quasi-improvisatory pieces dispatched with Wosner’s characteristic combination of dexterity and interpretive subtlety. … The whole project has an air of exploratory freedom that feels entirely apropos.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“A fabulous pianist, incapable of touching an ugly note … I enjoyed the record first time round. I revelled in the connections [between the composers], especially Ives, on second hearing.” Musical Toronto

“[Shai Wosner] imbues each piece with immediacy and freedom, creating the original sense of how these impromptus might have been born as true improvisations. While Wosner has every muscle necessary to rattle a concert grand, his real power lies in being small. He’s able to execute the softest hammer strike to the strings for a sound that is only describable as velvet. … Wosner makes [these impromptus] powerfully introspective and somewhat mystical. His playing is subtly hesitant and exploratory, creating the feeling that he’s never been here before, that this is in fact the moment of birth.”
The WholeNote

“Shai Wosner has received accolades for his Schubert. Taking all four impromptus together, I can see why. He has a sure command of the flow of these pieces, an immaculate tone favoring the quiet, and an articulation that is in a class by itself. He takes great relish in the locked-hands staccatos and, in general, likes sharp edges and velocity.” Audiophile Audition

 

Beethoven: Complete Sonatas &
Variations for Cello & Piano
Ralph Kirshbaum & Shai Wosner

ONYX4178
Release date: December 9, 2016

Recorded at at London's Wigmore Hall, Kirshbaum and Wosner decide to record the 5 sonatas and the sets of variations after a tour that took them across the US and the UK. Kirshbaum brings a lifetime of insight and profound love for this music and is superbly partnered by Wosner (a former BBC NGA and a BBT artist) who has firmly established himself as a major interpreter of Beethoven as well as Schubert, Mozart and Haydn, not to mention composers such as Ligeti. This is music making of the highest order.

“Wosner keeps the piano line crisp and buoyant; Kirshbaum spins long, broad phrases that look convincingly into the far distance. Together they make Beethoven’s huge structures work, but the details can be striking too: listen for the sense of desolation at the end of the Adagio in the first movement of the Sonata No 2, or the way in which the ethereal beginning of No 3 comes gradually into solid focus.”
The Guardian

“It would be easy to say that Kirshbaum brings the mature wisdom, Wosner … the relatively youthful freshness. But like everything else in these remarkable accounts, those qualities are shared. Sometimes it’s like listening to two people excitedly bouncing ideas off each other; at others it’s like a love duet, or even the kind of intense parting conversation in which every word counts to an almost painful degree – the final stages of the slow movement of Op. 102 No. 2 are a breathtaking example of the latter.” Performance: 5/5 stars; Recording: 5/5 stars
BBC Music Magazine, “Chamber Choice”

“Listeners fortunate enough to hear this duo in this repertoire in concert in London recently will know what a treat they are in for. Kirshbaum, 70 years young, is in fine form with distinctive rich-yet-lithe tone and deeply intuitive phrasing. No detail is overlooked, yet each piece is allowed to unfold organically. His partnership with Wosner is inspired, the pianist as refreshingly supple as he is insightful. With excellent recorded sound, this makes a fascinating must-hear alternative to the recent Isserlis-Levin set (Hyperion).” 5/5 stars
Classical Music, “Editor’s Choice”

“From the touchingly hesitant opening of the F major and the heart-on-sleeve emotion of the C major’s Tempo d’andante to the forceful aggression in the gritty, biting sforzandos that abound in these works, these are seasoned performances that ring true. … The three variation sets, interspersed between the first three sonatas, add a different, lighter perspective and contain much joyful playing, plus impressive virtuosity from Wosner.”
The Strad

"The playing is probing yet unaffected, thoughtful yet delivered with a simplicity that lets Beethoven’s lyrical succinctness shine through the maelstrom of emotions that flavour the sonatas’ expressive twists and turns... Kirshbaum brings effortless maturity to all these works, supported by the poetic solidity of Wosner’s pianism." The Scotsman

“…certainly [with Ralph Kirshbaum] in the company of Shai Wosner, these sonatas … have an infectious exuberance.”
Gramophone

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Haydn & Ligeti: Concertos & Capriccios
Danish National Symphony Orchestra

ONYX4136
Release date: June 3, 2016

Pianist Shai Wosner’s eclectic new recording pairs concertos and solo pieces by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and György Ligeti (1923-2006), exploring their quirky humor and other connections across centuries. Performing with conductor Nicholas Collon and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Wosner plays Haydn’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Haydn’s Piano Concerto No. 11 in D, and Ligeti’s Piano Concerto, one of the most challenging piano works of the late 20th century.  The concertos are interspersed with solo works including Haydn’s Capriccio (Fantasia) in C, Haydn’s Capriccio in G, “Acht Sauschnider mussen sein” (It takes eight to castrate a boar), and Ligeti’s rarely heard Capriccios Nos. 1 and 2. The recording will be available from iTunes, Amazon.com and other music retailers on Friday, May 20 in the U.K. and Friday, June 3 in the U.S.

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“To galvanizing yet ruminative effect, this disc brings together the bright, witty, unexpectedly heartfelt music of two Central European composers … all is played with style, flair and velvety touch by Mr. Wosner, given spirited support by Mr. Collon and the Danes.”
The New York Times, “The Best Classical Music Recordings of 2016”

“It’s the intelligence, perception and dazzling energy of Wosner’s playing that makes all this possible and vivid. A Barenboim protégé, he responds to every twist and turn with a sense of great immediacy as well as an airy, high-stepping poise and unerring pointing-up of Ligeti’s deliciously unpredictable rhythms.” 5/5 stars
BBC Music Magazine, “Concerto Choice”

“Both his Haydn concertos are fresh, agile, lithe and never less than expressive. … From [the Ligeti Piano Concerto’s] dazzling display of colour and sound, soloist and ensemble convey a fundamental humanity so appealing that the concerto’s 18 minutes seem over before they have begun.”
Gramophone

“An inspired idea to couple Ligeti with Haydn: both composers deftly moving from humour to seriousness, from darkness back to light in the twinkling of an eye. It helps that they are helped by an artist of the calibre of Wosner, whose technique, control and musical instincts are second to none. … Essential listening.” 5/5 stars
Classical Music

“…to hear [Haydn and Ligeti’s] works back-to-back, played with such clarity and insight, is a revelation. Wosner makes his way through two of Haydn’s concertos with such brio and sly wit that I found myself laughing out loud several times, and he shapes the bawdy disruptions of Ligeti’s Piano Concerto with disruptive force.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Wosner and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under Nicholas Collon execute impeccably and with absolutely all the waggishness and spunk and elegance that is required.”
Forbes

“The brilliance of Wosner’s Haydn, his rhythmic drive, and his alertness to the delightfully unpredictable demands of the Ligeti makes this a special recording. If you like the idea of Ligeti alongside Haydn… well, it’s sheer joy.”
BBC Radio 3

 

Schubert/Mazzoli
ONYX4136
Release date: November 10, 2014

In his third recital album on the Onyx label, pianist Shai Wosner pairs works by Schubert with those by Brooklyn-based composer Missy Mazzoli. The recording includes Schubert’s Six moments musicaux, D. 780; Ms. Mazzoli’s 2007 work for piano and electronics, Isabelle Eberhardt Dreams of Pianos; and Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, D. 959. As part of the release, Mr. Wosner also performs Ms. Mazzoli’s A Map of Laughter, a two-minute work commissioned by Mr. Wosner, available as a bonus track by download only. Both of Ms. Mazzoli’s works on the album take their inspiration from the Schubert works that accompany them: Isabelle Eberhardt is a meditation on Schubert’s A-Major sonata and A Map of Laughter is influenced by the fourth movement of Schubert’s Moments musicaux.

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“The pianist Shai Wosner again proves himself a fine Schubertian with a gorgeously phrased and soulful interpretation of the ‘Moments Musicaux’ (D. 780) that traverses the full palette of intimacy and power. He brings similarly vivid contrasts to his elegant, wholly satisfying performance of Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 20 in A (D. 959), enhanced by his beautifully warm touch.”
The New York Times

“Touch is everything in Schubert. All it takes is the opening phrase of the slightest of his piano pieces to separate the general run of pianists from the truly outstanding. This release from Shai Wosner places the New York-based Israeli pianist indisputably in the second category.”
Sinfini Music

“[Wosner’s] account of the Sonata is magnificent. He responds intensely to the poetry and terror of this extraordinary work, which he allows to speak with all its hesitations, false steps and crazy outbursts.”
BBC Music Magazine

“Wosner’s interpretations draw you ineluctably into his own vision… Slightly steadier than the songful Lupu, [Wosner] nevertheless proves himself a Schubertian of real stature.”
Gramophone

“Hard to remember when a pianist on record last gave Schubert such personal expression.”
Sinfini Music

“Proven Schubert exponent Shai Wosner extends his credentials in the composer’s intimate and expansive keyboard works.”
Audiophile Audition

 

Signs, Games + Messages
Cedille Records: CDR 90000143
Release date: October 29, 2013

Signs, Games + Messages, a new recording by violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Shai Wosner, will be released by Cedille Records on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 (digital download and pre-orders begin Tuesday, October 1).

 

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“Janacek’s searching, strangely beautiful Violin Sonata and Bartok’s pugnacious, rhapsodic Violin Sonata No. 1 turn up in recordings, but not often in accounts as gripping as these by the probing violinist Jennifer Koh and the dynamic pianist Shai Wosner. In an inventive stroke, this duo plays these formidable works along with a series of ingenious and impish pieces by the Hungarian modernist master Gyorgy Kurtag. A standout new recording.”
The New York Times

“A fascinating, satisfying programme, bringing together three composers whose work is rooted in their local cultures, absorbed to form highly personal styles. … Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner have clearly made great efforts to enter the expressive world of all the composers, and the performances show a high level of technical assurance. The account of the Janácek is one of the finest I’ve heard. At his first entry, Wosner uses more pedal than most pianists, surrounding the violin melody with a halo of sound. The ‘Ballada’ creates a magical atmosphere, Koh and Wosner finding a wealth of tone colours within a restrained, delicate ambience so that the passionate outburst near the end is doubly striking.”
Gramophone

“Koh and Wosner are superb in Bartók’s First Sonata. She expresses the full measure of the music without ever producing a single ugly or even awkward note; he is a powerhouse as well as a subtle presence.”
Fanfare

“Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner make an extremely impressive duo. The Janácek and Bartók sonatas are magnificently played. … Listening is a joy.”
ClassicsToday

 

Schubert:
Piano Sonatas D840 and D850
Six German Dances D820
Hungarian Dances D817
Onyx 4073

“…this new [Schubert CD] puts him straight into the front rank of the Schubertians." — BBC Music Magazine

“With this recital Shai Wosner declares himself a Schubertian of unfaltering authority and character." — Gramophone

“The Six German Dances and Hungarian Melody…are simply delightful: lilting, energetic, and with a sense of intimacy.”
International Piano

Samples:
Schubert: Hungarian Melody D.817
Schubert: Sonata in D Major D.850, Op.53, I. Allegro vivace

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“…this new [Schubert recording] puts him straight into the front rank of the Schubertians…this music comes across as absolutely freshly conceived as do his evocative liner notes… “His playing of the German Dances has muscularity and a lovely transparency, while the Hungarian Melody has exquisite songfulness. But what strikes the listener from the first few bars of the Sonata which opens this recording…is the aristocratic grace of Wosner’s tone, and his expressive shades of staccato.”
BBC Music Magazine

“With this recital Shai Wosner declares himself a Schubertian of unfaltering authority and character. Entirely modern in style (tonally lean and sharply focused, never given to easy or sentimental options), he relishes every twist and turn in the so-called Reliquie Sonata…
“Wosner voices his own formidably assured and trenchant voice. Whether fiercely energized in the first movement’s propulsion, keeping everything smartly on the move in the second movement…or locating every subtlety beneath the finale’s outwardly innocent sing-a-song-of-sixpence surface, Wosner rivets your attention at every point.”
Gramophone

“Wosner brings an uncommonly thoughtful style to this recital of Schubert works that, he points out in well-written liner notes, had their origins in the composer’s rare forays away from his hometown of Vienna. Wosner combines great sound with an incisive grasp of musical architecture in pillars of the Schubert piano repertoire…”
Tampa Bay Times

“The Six German Dances and Hungarian Melody…are simply delightful: lilting, energetic, and with a sense of intimacy.”
International Piano

 

Brahms:
Seven Fantasies Op. 116
Handel Variations
Schoenberg:
Six Little Piano Pieces
Suite for Piano
Onyx 4055

Samples:
Brahms: Intermezzo Op.116 No.2

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“The links between these giants [Brahms and Schoenberg] come through compellingly on the new recording…by the excellent Israeli-born pianist Shai Wosner…
He plays the Schoenberg suite with crispness and clarity. The Gavotte and the Musette dance and swing with appropriate Baroque energy. Except for the 12-tone language, these pieces truly evoke their sources. Yet Mr. Wosner also captures the modernist daring and path-breaking wildness of the music. … In the Brahms fantasies he brings sensitivity and elegance to the most atmospheric and elusive of the pieces… It is stunning to hear the final juxtaposition, when Mr. Wosner moves from the agitated, tumultuous Capriccio in D minor, which ends the Brahms set, to the last Schoenberg miniature… This is an inventively conceived and impressive recording.”
The New York Times

“Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel…is a showcase for Wosner’s variety of touch at the keyboard, and for the different musical worlds he creates. It’s more than touch, of course, that makes Wosner so impressive.”
NPR All Things Considered

“This is pianism of the very highest order, involving and full-blooded, with such burnished passion from Wosner that it is a surprise that these are not live performances… In short, a fascinating disc: this is a pianist to watch.”
International Piano

 

 

Salvatore Sciarrino:
Piano Sonatas II - V / 4 Notturni

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