Pianist Shai Wosner Launches Latest Album, IMPROMPTU

By: Apr. 19, 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; Dvo?ák'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.

Reflecting on the theme of improvisation that unites Impromptu's thirteen works, Mr. Wosner writes in the recording liner notes:

"There is a rush that comes with losing yourself in an improvisation-the liberating feeling you get when that thing you are making up on the spot seems to take on a life of its own while you are just tagging along (there is also the thrill in the risk that the whole thing might fall flat at any moment). ... Improvising implies a certain state of mind-it is informal though not necessarily formless. And that is captured by the impromptu, which is otherwise a fully written-out piece. It can be many things to many composers but its lack of formality sets it up as an intimate, immediate and very personal musical gesture towards the listener."

Opening with the first of Schubert's Four Impromptus, D935-a set Mr. Wosner describes as the "prime example" of the genre-the recording explores the impromptu and related genres from Beethoven to Ives. A variety of compositional approaches are on display: Beethoven's Fantasy is capricious in a manner close to actual improvisation; Chopin, Liszt, and Dvo?ák's Impromptus are tightly constructed, yet whimsical miniatures; Gershwin's Impromptu is a jazz-inflected juxtaposition of two contrasting keys; and Ives's Improvisations appear to be truly improvised, transcribed from a 1938 recording.

Impromptu was preceded by Mr. Wosner's 2016 recordings of Beethoven's complete sonatas and variations with cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and concertos and capriccios by Haydn and Ligeti with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Collon. Mr. Wosner's other solo recital recordings for the label include an album featuring Schubert's Six Moments Musicaux, D780, Schubert's Sonata in A Major, D959, and two works by Missy Mazzoli that draw inspiration from Schubert: Isabelle Eberhardt Dreams of Pianos and A Map of Laughter, commissioned by Mr. Wosner; an album offering a selection of piano works by Schubert that incorporate elements of folk music; and a recording that pairs works by Brahms and Schoenberg. Mr. Wosner's first duo recording, with violinist Jennifer Koh, titled Signs, Games + Messages, was released on Cedille Records. Weaving traditional Central European folk music with 20th-century modernism, the recording features works by Bartók, Janá?ek, and Kurtág.

Pianist Shai Wosner has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity, and insightful performances of a broad repertoire-from Beethoven and Schubert to the music of today. A frequent recitalist, concerto soloist, and chamber musician, Mr. Wosner is known for imaginative programming that links music of the past and present, as in Impromptu. He is a recipient of Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award-a prize he used to commission Michael Hersch's concerto Along the Ravines, which he then performed with the Seattle Symphony and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie. Described as a "Schubertian of unfaltering authority and character" by Gramophone, Mr. Wosner launches a new solo recital series late this season, Schubert: The Great Sonatas, which focuses on the composer's last six piano sonatas. The series continues into the 2017-18 season.