Internationally-renowned cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and pianist Shai Wosner release an all-Beethoven disc on the Onyx Classics label on December 9, 2016. The duo’s album, which was recorded live in London’s Wigmore Hall, consists of the complete Beethoven cello sonatas and variations, to be released as a two-disc set. Last season, Kirshbaum and Wosner performed Beethoven cycles extensively throughout the United States and Europe; the tour culminated with a performance of the complete cycle in London, recorded for Onyx Classics. Mr. Kirshbaum and Mr. Wosner continue their performances of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano in March, with a two-concert series at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, followed by a performance with Chamber Music Sedona in Arizona.
Ralph Kirshbaum and Shai Wosner began working together many years ago, following a meeting at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where they performed the Brahms E Minor Sonata. With an instant rapport based on a mutual respect for the score and for the building of musical phrases, they began finding time to work and perform together. Over a span of six years they devoted themselves to the preparation of the Beethoven repertoire for cello and piano, progressively preparing and performing these great works. As a culmination of this process, they were invited to perform their first complete Beethoven cycles in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in December 2014. It was the success of that first experience and subsequent concerts that led to the idea of recording these works as a part of Kirshbaum's 70th birthday celebrations in London, centered around two concerts at Wigmore Hall. The experience of exploring this repertoire in depth along with the spirit and joy of working together has proven to be a delight for both artists and these discs are based on their live performances in London.
Sonata No.1 Op. 5 No. 1
12 Variations 'Ein Madchen oder Weibchen' Op. 66
Sonata No.2, Op. 5 No. 2
12 Variations on ' See the conqu'ring hero comes'' WoO 45
Sonata No.3 Op.69
7 Variations 'Bei Mannern' WoO 46
Sonata No.4 Op. 102 No. 1
Sonata No.5 Op. 102 No. 2
Ralph Kirshbaum’s many recordings have included a Gramophone Magazine “Record of the Year” world premiere recording of Tippett’s Triple Concerto for Philips, the Elgar and Walton Concertos for Chandos, the Ravel, Shostakovich and Brahms Trios for EMI, the Barber Concerto and Sonata for EMI/Virgin Classics and the Shostakovich and Prokofiev Sonatas with Peter Jablonski for Altara Music. Also noteworthy is his recording of the Brahms Double and Beethoven Triple Concertos for BMG Classics with Pinchas Zukerman, John Browning and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and the recent Hyperion release of the Schubert Quintet with the Takács Quartet.
Mr. Kirshbaum has appeared with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, BBC and London Symphonies, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Zurich Tonhalle, Orchestre de Paris and Israel Philharmonic. He has collaborated with many of the great conductors of the time such as Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, Andrew Davis, the late Sir Colin Davis, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Sir Antonio Pappano, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin and the late Sir Georg Solti. Ralph Kirshbaum has appeared frequently at such prominent international festivals as Edinburgh, Bath, Verbier, Lucerne, Aspen, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Music@Menlo, Ravinia and New York’s Mostly Mozart.
Having enjoyed a thirty-year collaboration with pianist Peter Frankl and violinist Gyorgy Pauk, Kirshbaum has in recent years frequently appeared with Pinchas Zukerman, Robert McDuffie, Lawrence Dutton, Peter Jablonski and Shai Wosner. Other recent collaborators have included Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Midori, Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Joseph Swensen, Pepe Romero, and the Emerson and Takács String Quartets. Bach forms an important part of Mr. Kirshbaum’s musical activities; he has performed the complete cycle of Bach Cello Suites in London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in Sydney, Edinburgh, Lyon and San Francisco. He has also made a critically acclaimed recording of the solo Bach Suites for EMI/Virgin Classics.
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 alike. 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 appeared with the BBC Philharmonic in a live broadcast from Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. His recital, chamber, and orchestral performances continue to be broadcast on Radio 3.
Released by Onyx Classics in June 2016, Wosner’s recording of the Ligeti concerto with Mr. Collon and the Danish Symphony Orchestra also features concertos by Haydn and solo capriccios by Haydn and Ligeti. This unique pairing of classical and modern masters was named “Concerto Choice” (September 2016) by BBC Music Magazine, which writes: “Wosner’s notes describe these composers’ use of humour as ‘like two distant relatives sharing an old family joke’. Wit nevertheless rubs shoulders effortlessly with intensity and even moments of terror – that Ligeti slow movement involves sounds that resemble a siren and a police whistle. It’s the intelligence, perception and dazzling energy of Wosner’s playing that makes all this possible and vivid.” In keeping with Mr. Wosner’s practice of exploring links between stylistically contrasting composers, his solo recordings for the Onyx label include an album of works by Brahms and Schoenberg and an album of works by Schubert and contemporary composer Missy Mazzoli.
Mr. Wosner has also recorded an all-Schubert solo album for Onyx featuring a selection of the composer’s folk-inspired piano works, a recording that put him “straight into the front rank of the Schubertians” (BBC Music Magazine). In addition to his Onyx releases, Mr. Wosner’s discography includes a duo recording with Jennifer Koh, titled Signs, Games + Messages, on the Cedille label. Weaving traditional Central European folk music with 20th-century modernism, the recording features works by Bartók, Janáček, and Kurtág, including the latter’s duet piece for which the album was named.