Home  |  Hi-Fi Audio Reviews  Audiophile Shows Partner Mags  News       



Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Arnold Schoenberg
Suite for Piano Opus 25; Six Little Piano Pieces Opus 19
Johannes Brahms
Seven Fantasias, Opus 116; Variations & Fugue on a Theme of Handel, Opus 24
Shai Wosner, Piano

Review By Phil Gold


  Israeli-born pianist Shai Wosner would have you consider Schoenberg and Brahms as more similar than we are led to expect. Both built upon the foundations laid by earlier composers, evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and both learned to distil the essence of their music into highly compact structures. Granted, Schoenberg's music here is 12-tone while Brahms is writing in a far more traditional idiom, and we tend to think of Schoenberg as an iconoclast and Brahms a reactionary, if we are to believe Richard Wagner.

Wosner studied piano in Tel Aviv with Emanuel Krasovsky and theory, improvisation and composition with André Hajdu before enrolling at the Julliard School under Emanuel Ax. He lives now in New York and is active internationally as a soloist and  chamber musician.

Wosner has assembled two major works, Schoenberg's Piano Suite, Opus 25 and Brahms' Handel Variations, Opus 24 to bookend this recording. At the centre he places two series of short piano pieces from the two composers, alternating between them to make his point.

First, let me unscramble the eggs as it were, and review the composers one at a time. Schoenberg's Suite for Piano Opus 25, which comprises 5 dance-based movements, was his first complete composition in the 12-tone method. Wosner is completely at home here and delivers a dramatic and highly articulate performance which captures many different moods. Given Wosner's strong rhythmic sense, the individual lines are easy to follow. The Opus 19 pieces are all very short but unhurried, painting very distinctive crystalline structures in a bare handful of notes. Wosner is superb again here, and this record will form an excellent introduction to Schoenberg for anyone looking for a way in to 20th century classical music.

The Brahms is a different story. Wosner brings a very strong technique to the task, but you cannot muscle your way through Brahms. Sometimes less is more, and so it is with the Seven Fantasias, where Gilels [DG 447446-2] shows the way. Gilels rarely put a foot wrong in my opinion, but his Brahms is exceptional even by his own lofty standards. In his hands these very advanced miniatures wrap their powerful outbursts in a long poetic line, using color, attack and presence to create jewels out of each movement and a unified conception from the seven movements. Wosner succeeds in some movements, particularly the second, but overall he impedes the flow of the music with his conspicuous point-making and agogic pauses. The same can be said of his Handel Variations, where the direct and passionate Idil Biret [Naxos8.550350] provides an inexpensive but highly acclaimed alternative. Biret is perhaps a little heavy-handed at times, but never obscures the larger scale structure by lingering on details.

Wosner succeeds brilliantly in his stated goal by juxtaposing and intermingling the shorter works of these two composers. I suspect he plays the Brahms the way he does to highlight the similarities between the two composers, discarding some of the poetry and flow to make his point.

The recording was made in the Friedberg Hall in Baltimore in January 2010. Onyx provides immaculate sound for these recordings, with a silent background and a wide dynamic range to highlight the pianist's virtuosity.



Performance: Brahms    Schoenberg  


Sound Quality:














































Quick Links

Premium Audio Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews


Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Superior Audio Gear Reviews


Our Featured Videos


Show Reports
Montreal Audiofest 2024 Report

Southwest Audio Fest 2024
Florida Intl. Audio Expo 2024
Capital Audiofest 2023 Report
Toronto Audiofest 2023 Report
UK Audio Show 2023 Report
Pacific Audio Fest 2023 Report
T.H.E. Show 2023 Report
HIGH END Munich 2023
Australian Hi-Fi Show 2023 Report
AXPONA 2023 Show Report
...More Show Reports


Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty



Industry & Music News

High-End Premium Audio & Music News


Partner Print Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine


For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics





Home   |   Hi-Fi Audio Reviews   |   News   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us


All contents copyright©  1995 - 2024  Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.