A big helping of Schubert: Shai Wosner returns to Fresno State’s Keyboard Concerts

The eminent pianist Shai Wosner is no stranger to Fresno. He’s performed here several times with the Fresno Philharmonic and the Philip Lorenz International Keyboard Concerts series.

Now he’s returning for his latest appearance with the Keyboard series. Here’s a rundown:

The concert: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets are $25 general, $18 seniors, $5 students.

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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 eight albums, the second of which was a selection of solo piano works by Schubert that incorporate elements of folk music. His latest album, “Impromptu,” released in 2017 on the Onyx Classics label, features improvisationally inspired works by seven different composers.

The program: Wosner will perform three shorter pieces by Chopin: Impromptu in A-flat Major, Op.29; Impromptu in F-sharp Major, Op.36; and Impromptu in G-flat Major, Op.51. But the focus of the program will be two major Schubert pieces: Sonata in D Major, D.850; and Sonata in G Major, D.894.

The critics: New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote of an 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.”


The local perspective: Andreas Werz, artistic director of Keyboard Concerts, notes that Schubert and Brahms are quite the rage these days amongst concert pianists. “There’s an unbelievable Schubert revival in this country,” he says. “I don’t remember having so much Schubert in one season.”

After the concert: In a time-honored tradition, Werz on Saturday will drive Wosner to Berkeley for his next appearance with Cal Performances. Because Keyboard and Cal Performances work together on bringing Wosner and other artists to the West Coast, it cuts down on costs for both organizations. And it gives Werz an added benefit: He gets three hours of travel time to gab with famed pianists. “There’s so much to talk about: repertoire, other pianists, what’s going on in the world,” he says. “It keeps me in the loop in the national concert scene.”

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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