Sharing Shai Wosner with UC Berkeley pays off for Fresno State's Keyboard Concerts

The Fresno BeeNovember 20, 2013 

Shai Wosner

MARCO BORGGREVE — www.marcoborggreve.com

The pianist Shai Wosner knows his Schubert.

Consider two recent performances: After a concert at the Kennedy Center, a Washington Post critic called his playing "enthralling" and "technically remarkable." New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote of a recent all-Schubert program: "In Schubert Mr. Wosner is not afraid to employ an enormous dynamic range. His pianissimos are uncommonly delicate and beautiful. But when the music moves him, his fortissimos can be steely and terrifying."

When Wosner takes the stage tonight at the Fresno State Concert Hall as part of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series, it will be with a program heavy with — you guessed it — Schubert. Here's a rundown:

The artist: The Israeli-born Wosner studied at Juilliard with piano great Emanuel Ax, himself a well-known name with Keyboard audiences. His honors include an Avery Fisher Career Grant. He's recorded three albums, the second of which was a selection of solo piano works by Schubert that incorporate elements of folk music. His latest album, "Signs, Games + Messages," with recordings by Wosner and violinist Jennifer Koh, was released just weeks ago.

The Fresno program: Wosner will perform Schubert's "Drei Klavierstücke" ("The Three Piano Pieces"), Sonata in A Major and Sonata in B-flat Major. He also will tackle a 2009 piece: Jörg Widmann's "Idyll and Abyss (Six Schubert Reminiscences)."

The appeal: Juxtaposing the Schubert pieces with the German composer Widmann's homage piece is a smart programming move, says Andreas Werz, artistic director of Keyboard Concerts. It's actually rare for such a recent piece of music to be heard at a Keyboard event.

"It's a special, sophisticated program," Werz says.

Making logistics work: One way that Keyboard Concerts is able to attract world-class artists while keeping costs down is to piggyback with other West Coast piano series, because travel costs can be shared. That's what's happening with this concert.

Wosner performs in Fresno tonight, attends a local private reception for Keyboard donors on Saturday, and then will catch a ride to Berkeley with Werz. On Sunday, Wosner performs with the Cal Performances series at the University of California at Berkeley.

Concert preview

Shai Wosner, 8 p.m. Friday, Fresno State Concert Hall. keyboardconcerts.com, (559) 278-2337. $18, $12 seniors, $5 students.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, dmunro@fresnobee.com and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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