Wosner, WCO a winning combination again

02.23.15
Shai Wosner
Madison Magazine

Pianist Shai Wosner proves less can be so much more

By Greg Hettmansberger

The last time I heard the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra was under the shadow of the Capitol dome. Needless to say, it was considerably warmer last July. Pianist Shai Wosner returned to collaborate with Andrew Sewell and his hardy band, and managed to raise the temperature at the Capitol Theater in a demonstration of exceptional taste and control.

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One does not get the tug of war between soloist and orchestra that became the bread and butter of large-scale concertos, nor the sublimely transporting melodies that are characteristic of Mozart’s greatest contributions. But under Wosner’s impeccable fingers at the command of a supremely musical mind, one can take a classical journey down a road less traveled, without ever wishing for what we are not getting.

Perhaps the works would be more often heard if more pianists could do what Wosner does—but then, that is what continues to set him apart from the “run of the mill” competition star. Wosner’s ability to control and express just in the dynamic range from mezzoforte to pianissimo puts many a bigger name to shame, and can really only be experienced live, and in a hall no less intimate than the Capitol Theater.

The finale of Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D Major, Hob. XVIII:11, is based on a Croation tune, and we get both a whiff of Hungarian style and the Turkish Janissary sounds so popular at the time in Vienna. That may be part of the reason that Wosner selected the “Hungarian Melody” of Schubert as an exquisite encore … and the fact that the second half of the concert was devoted to Schubert’s Symphony No. 2. As with so much of Schubert, the miniature was a virtual song without words, and again Wosner made the keyboard sing as few pianists can.

Wosner’s career has already reached heights that many a professional would happily settle for, but it seems unlikely that it is anywhere near the crest of what he will achieve. Madison has been lucky to have him grace our venues more than once, and we can only hope that he continues to make an occasional appearance.

Read the full review here.