The one word that came to mind most frequently while watching Shai Wosner perform was "patience." Wosner exhibits a patience of playing that demands a patience of listening. There is nothing more mesmerizing than a well-timed fermata, and Wosner practices these pauses to such a degree that the entire audience was transfixed throughout the recital.
As another attendee pointed out to me, Wosner's playing is free from the affectations that so many classical musicians display in their solo performances. His style is much more controlled and restrained, yet there is still a very subtle sense of humor. He is careful to point out the surprises that Schubert has worked into his compositions, like a thoughtful tour guide.
The non-Schubert piece was Jörg Widmann's Idyll and Abyss: Six Schubert Reminiscences. The piece sounds like what would happen if you trapped Schubert's piano music inside a windup music box and detuned the tines. The result is ethereal and slightly demonic. It also incorporates pedaling techniques that create dramatic echoes and resonances. These effects were unintentionally amplified by the low rumblings of the subway next door. Though I am generally not a fan of new music, Wosner's interpretation was approachable and charming.
This event is one of the first concerts at SubCulture NYC, a basement concert hall at 45 Bleecker St. The recital also marks the beginning of SubCulture's First Annual Piano Festival. For more, visit subculturenewyork.com.