Pianist Shai Wosner has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity and creative insight. His performances of a broad range of repertoire – from Beethoven and Schubert to Ligeti and the music of today – reflect a degree of virtuosity and intellectual curiosity that has made him a favorite among audiences and critics, who note his “keen musical mind and deep musical soul” (NPR’s All Things Considered).
Mr. Wosner’s penchant for eclectic pairings of diverse repertoire is on full display this October, when he performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat Major alongside the world premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s new piano concerto Dissolving Margins on tour with ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra) in Memphis, Philadelphia and New York. This new concerto for piano and strings was inspired by the writings of Elena Ferrante and takes its title from her Neapolitan novels, wherein one of the central characters experiences a recurring sense of existential malaise that she describes as a feeling of “dissolving margins.” The work was co-commissioned for Mr. Wosner by the 92nd Street Y – which presents the New York premiere – and the Albany and Phoenix Symphonies, with which Mr. Wosner performs the concerto in March. On the program in Phoenix, he also performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, and additional orchestral highlights of his season include performances of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major with the Sarasota Orchestra and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat Major and Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 4 for piano and orchestra with the Hamburg Symphony.
Described as a “Schubertian of unfaltering authority and character” by Gramophone, Mr. Wosner continues his career-long, critically-acclaimed engagement with the composer’s music by devoting his newest album on Onyx Classics to four of Schubert’s late sonatas. This new double album, which is released in January and completes Mr. Wosner’s recorded series of the composer’s last six sonatas, features the Piano Sonatas in A minor (D. 845), G Major (D. 894), C minor (D. 958), and B-flat Major (D. 960), and follows his previously released recordings of the Piano Sonatas in A Major (D. 959) and D Major (D. 850: Gasteiner). Mr. Wosner has also performed cycles of the six final sonatas as part of his recital series “Schubert: The Great Sonatas” in New York at the 92nd Street Y; in Washington, DC at The Phillips Collection; at Duke University in Durham, NC; and at the Konzerthaus Berlin.
In addition to his concerto performances and new recording this season, Mr. Wosner appears in solo and chamber recitals around the world. In his solo concerts, he explores the genre of the piano sonata, performing not only classics by Beethoven (No. 15: Pastorale) and Schubert (B-flat Major, D. 960), which bookend each recital, but also the earlier, miniature sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti and more recent Nanosonatas of Frederic Rzewski, which alternate throughout the program. Among Mr. Wosner’s chamber music engagements are two programs in New York this April – first with musicians of the New York Philharmonic at the 92nd Street Y, then with the Dover Quartet at Washington Irving High School, presented by Peoples’ Symphony Concerts. His collaborations with musicians of the New York Philharmonic have become an annual tradition, and in this concert, he joins in the Philharmonic’s season-long Mahler celebration by performing in the composer’s sole surviving piece of chamber music: an early Piano Quartet, of which only one movement was completed. This fragmentary work is paired with Schumann’s Piano Quartet, also featuring Mr. Wosner, and Brahms’s String Sextet No. 1. With the Dover Quartet six days later, he performs Brahms’s Piano Quintet, as well as solo repertoire.
Further chamber music collaborations include an all-Beethoven program with members of the San Diego Symphony; performances of Schubert piano trios in Israel with violinist Carmit Zori and cellist Hillel Zori; a U.K. tour with the International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove, including solo and chamber performances recorded live as part of a four-program radio series curated by Mr. Wosner for BBC Radio 3; and duo-piano concerts with longtime collaborator Orion Weiss in Cleveland, Los Alamos and at Duke University, where they perform their tour program from last season. This program, which they brought to the Kennedy Center among other venues, comprises works by Brahms, Schubert and David Lang.
Mr. Wosner records for Onyx Classics, and his recordings have been widely praised for their inventive pairings of classical and modern masters. Among his recent recordings is 2017’s Impromptu, which features an eclectic mix of improvisationally inspired works by composers from Beethoven and Schubert to Gershwin and Ives. Additional releases include concertos and capriccios by Haydn and Ligeti with the Danish National Symphony conducted by Nicholas Collon, an all-Schubert solo album featuring a selection of the composer’s folk-inspired piano works, solo works by Brahms and Schoenberg, and works by Schubert paired with new works by Missy Mazzoli. As a chamber musician, Mr. Wosner has recorded Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations for cello and piano with Ralph Kirshbaum and – for Cedille Records – works by Bartók, Janáček and Kurtág with his duo partner of many years, violinist Jennifer Koh.
Mr. Wosner 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 performed with the Seattle Symphony and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in its world and European premieres. He was in residence with the BBC as a New Generation Artist, during which he appeared frequently with the BBC orchestras, including conducting Mozart concertos from the keyboard with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He returned to the BBC Scottish Symphony in both subscription concerts and Proms performances with Donald Runnicles, and he appeared with the BBC Philharmonic in a live broadcast from Manchester's Bridgewater Hall.
As a concerto soloist in North America, Mr. Wosner has appeared with the major orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, San Francisco and Toronto, among others. In addition to the BBC orchestras, he has performed abroad with the Aurora Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, LSO St. Luke’s, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Orchestre National de Belgique, Staatskapelle Berlin and the Vienna Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Wosner has also appeared with the Orpheus, St. Paul and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, having conducted the latter from the keyboard in a 2010 concert that was broadcast on American Public Radio.
Mr. Wosner has worked with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Gunther Herbig, James Judd, Zubin Mehta, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Leonard Slatkin, Jeffrey Tate and Yan Pascal Tortelier; he has performed at summer festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, Bravo! Vail festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and Ravinia Festival. For several consecutive summers he was involved in the West-Eastern Divan Workshop led by Mr. Barenboim and toured as soloist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
Widely sought after by colleagues for his versatility and spirit of partnership, Mr. Wosner has collaborated as a chamber musician with numerous artists, including Martha Argerich, Martin Fröst, Lynn Harrell, Dietrich Henschel, Ralph Kirshbaum, Jennifer Koh, Cho-Liang Lin, Christian Tetzlaff and Pinchas Zukerman. He has also collaborated with leading chamber ensembles, including the Grammy® Award-winning Parker Quartet in “The Schubert Effect” recital series. Mr. Wosner is a past member of Lincoln Center's Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two) and performs regularly at various chamber music festivals, including Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Piano Aux Jacobins festival in France and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Born in Israel, Shai Wosner enjoyed a broad musical education from a very early age, studying piano with Opher Brayer and Emanuel Krasovsky, as well as composition, theory and improvisation with André Hajdu. He later studied at The Juilliard School with Emanuel Ax. He resides in New York with his wife and two children.