Pianist Shai Wosner approaches Schubert with delicacy

Shai Wosner

Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra concert is masterful and moving

By John W. Barker

The WCO and Maestro Andrew Sewell presented a uniformly well-planned and fine evening, beginning with the opener by Italian-American composer Vittorio Giannini’s “Prelude and Fugue for String Orchestra.” A Neo-Romantic work, its first section was clearly modeled on Barber’s famous “Adagio for Strings,” while the Fugue, if appropriately contrapuntal in the best academic sense, at times seemed to verge on Shostakovich.

Most of these Haydn concertos were clearly meant for the harpsichord. ("Clavier," their official designation merely means "keyboard.")The ministrations of the modern grand piano do not always suit them best. Still, Wosner's straightforward playing dispelled any misgivings: He played without anachronistic exaggerations, and with exemplary clarity and precision. And he deserves credit for exploring these off-the-beaten-track compositions.

Wosner has been winning particular acclaim lately for his performances of Schubert. His encore was a short, late piece by Schubert called "Hungarian Melody." Wosner caressed his instrument with the most tender and subtle nuancing, demonstrating his integrity in distinguishing between the very different stylistic worlds of Haydn and Schubert. This was a standout case of a concert encore presented with delicacy and truly moving beauty.

Read the full review here.