Haydn: Piano Concertos – No 4 in G major; No 11 in D major; Ligeti: Piano Concerto; Capriccios Nos 1 and 2

Reviewed on Wed 28 Sep, 2016

The mood throughout is light, and Shai Wosner suggests comparisons more through his fleet and agile interpretations than through the specifics of the music.

Haydn and Ligeti – the great musical jokers of the 18th and 20th centuries – meet in Shai Wosner’s new album of solo capriccios and orchestral concertos. The mood throughout is light, and Wosner suggests comparisons more through his fleet and agile interpretations than through the specifics of the music. The Haydn concertos are presented in direct but expressive readings, with Nicholas Collon and the Danish National Symphony providing focussed and sympathetic support, although with a slightly colourless modern instrument tone. Ligeti’s two capriccios are early works, although the second approaches the maniacal complexity of the later Études. The Ligeti concerto is more sophisticated, but Wosner again maintains a sense of lightness. Where other performers accent the cross-rhythms and make theatrical gestures of the registral extremes, Wosner instead projects a sense of playful exploration. This is non-confrontational Ligeti, and when combined with modern-sounding Haydn, the result is a satisfying unity across the programme.
–Gavin Dixon