Biography, photos, CD and concert reviews
Article added on July 10, 2005
There are the great and famous
artists, there are those that are just famous, and then there are countless
little-known artists. Within the last group are some
outstanding, accomplished artists who deserve their share of fame. The classical
pianist Krisztina Wajsza is one of those rare pearls.
Unfortunately, her first and only record to date does not come close to matching her
abilities. Let's hope her upcoming Mozart album will better demonstrate her
Concert review, Wigmore Hall, London, April 18, 2005
London's Wigmore Hall is not a venue for people who like attending social events, but
one for real lovers of classical music, the ideal place for a concert by
The pianist began the evening with Mozart (sheet
music by Mozart), a composer she particularly cherishes and who will be
the focus of her next CD. In the first movement of the Sonata in C minor,
K. 457, I had some doubts. She played the Allegro in the way one
expects it from a piano teacher: skilled and solid, but uninspired, not
transcending the material.
The doubts disappeared in the second movement. In the Adagio, the
artist was in her element. The music in E flat major had depth and breathed Mozart's
humanity. The pianist made listeners feel the piece come alive. She became the
composer's soul mate, without losing herself in superficiality in the ornamental
The third movement, the Allegro assai, is more dramatic. She rendered it on the same astounding artistic level as the
previous one. She let the music flow elegantly, underlining its poetic
After the classical Mozart, Krisztina Wajsza turned to the contemporary Swiss
composer Hans Urs Zürcher (*1941); not exactly a household name - not even for the
reviewer, a Swiss himself.
Earth Sounds and Sounds of Spheres is a cycle of ten short pieces for
piano written in 1985. The pianist chose three for the evening's program:
Aldebaran (Star of the Sage), Kailas (The Holy Mountain in
Tibet) and Babylon, reflecting the composer's interest in Buddhism and
The rendition of the first piece gave me the impression of somber memorial, a
reminder of the atrocities of the 20th century, although Hans Urs Zürcher my
have had other things in mind. Even more impressive - in both the composition as
well as its execution - was Kailas. It was a completely different
piece, impressionistic at the beginning. The elegantly flowing music, which
became progressively more emotional, made for another outstanding performance. The
last piece, Babylon, was short, dramatic, and not on the same level as
the previous one, neither in its composition nor in its interpretation.
Krisztina Wajsza concluded the first part of her concert with Chopin's Fantasy
in F minor, Op. 49 (sheet
music by Chopin), which can also be found on her 1999 debut album.
After a leisurely introduction, the piece reared up, the interpretation became
emotional, carried the listeners away. The live performance was miles ahead of
her album recorded six years ago, testifying to the progress she has made
since then. The best part was the lyrical one in which the pianist managed to
open up a new world of introspection, before returning to this lively world.
The beginning of the second half of the concert at Wigmore Hall was dedicated to
thirteen of Scriabin's Preludes, Op. 11 (sheet music
by Scriabin). This work by the young Scriabin, influenced by
Chopin. Krisztina did not turn the preludes into showpieces. Instead, she
demonstrated that she is a master of this concise form, switching with ease
from a grand, dramatic emotion to delicate intimacy.
Béla Bartók's (sheet music
by Bartók) Sonata is the composer's largest work for solo
piano. First performed in 1926, it is clearly a work of the 20th century.
Krisztina began the Allegro moderato with ferocity,
demonstrating again that, in addition to her high-degree of sensitivity, she
is a master of the dramatic gesture, too. The second movement, Sostenuto e
pesante, sounded accordingly: sustained and weighty. Towards the end of
the piece, the music loses its harmony, the breaks of the 20th century can be
felt, something the pianist was able to express without losing focus.
In the third movement, Allegro molto, Bartók's folk-like theme returns
in its original form. The pianist performed the dramatic passages with virtuosity. Her
commitment to the composer's music could be felt. The "bravos" at the
end were well deserved.
Her encore was another highlight of the evening: Scriabin's Nocturne opus 9
for the left hand. Allegedly, he composed it in 1894 (together with the Prelude
for the left hand) after over-practicing Liszt's Don Juan Fantasy,
which resulted in a hand injury which forced him to turn to composition - for the uninjured left hand. Krisztina's
rendition of the Nocturne by the 22-year old was moving, profound, and
powerful, no superficial tear-jerker. Hopefully, she will include it on her upcoming CD -
or if it is too late, on the next one.
There are "stars" - old and new - pushed by music labels and
ignorant media who, in the live performances I have attended, never reached the depth of Krisztina Wajsza at Wigmore
Hall. A career as an outstanding concert pianist may still lay ahead of her,
especially considering that she is at ease with the public. She loves the
limelight, but does not put on a superstar attitude, remaining natural, true
to her style.
Biography of Krisztina Wajsza
Krisztina Wajsza was born in Cluj (Klausenburg) in 1967. Transsilvania is not
only the home of Dracula, but also of a Hungarian minority in Romania, to
which her family belongs.
Her father being a cellist and her mother a pianist,
Krisztina Wajsza grew up with music and, at the age of six, began her piano
studies with Professor Walter Metzger. In 1980, her family moved to
Switzerland, and she studied with Rosmarie Stucki and Michael Studer at the
Bern Music Conservatory, graduating with a solo diploma in 1988.
She continued studies with Professor Harald Wagner in Stuttgart, concert
pianist Maria João Pires in Zurich and Munich, Professor Joseph Kalichstein
at the Juilliard School in New York City as well as the late Professor György
Sebök at Indian University, Bloomington, where she received an Artist
During her studies and in the following years, she won a series of awards,
including a scholarship by Migros Genossenschaftsbund Zürich in 1985, a
Special prize from the City of Bayreuth in 1988, and the first prize in the
"Piano 80" Competition in Winterthur both in 1988 and 1989. She won
the Kiefer Hablitzel Scholarship in 1989 and the first prize in the
"Mozart Competition of the Juilliard School of Music" in New York
City in 1990, where she was given a Vladimir Horowitz scholarship.
Krisztina Wajsza has performed as a soloist in Switzerland and abroad with
orchestras including the Zürcher Kammerorchester, Bern Symphony Orchestra,
Camerata Academica Bayreuth, Philharmonie Gelsenkirchen, Bern Chamber
Orchestra, Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, Festival Strings Lucerne and the
Vienna Chamber Orchestra conducted by George Pehlivian, with whom she gave her
debut at the Konzerthaus Vienna in May 1999. The same year, she also toured
the Netherlands twice playing solo recitals. She gave her debut at the Music
Academy Budapest in September 2000. The following season, she performed at New
Paltz Piano Summer-Festival and formed a duo with the
violinist Isabelle Meyer, with whom she played several concerts throughout
Switzerland. In November 2001, she was guest soloist with the Städtisches
Orchester Trier, where she performed again in 2003. In addition, she played for the European
Community in Lausanne. In 2004, she performed several solo recitals and was a
guest soloist in Romania, after 24 years of absence, with the Transylvania
Symphony Orchestra. In 2005, she has performed or will perform at Wigmore Hall
in London, at the Festival musicale delle nazioni in Rome and will collaborate in Basel with
Kurt Widmer in Richard Strauss'-Lord Alfred Tennyson's German version of the melodrama
for piano and narrator. Krisztina Wajsza is a piano teacher in Switzerland.
Added on March 4, 2016: In July 2015, Krisztina became the widow of US
guitarist Benjamin Bunch, with whom she has two daughters.
Krisztina Wajsza (added on March 4, 2016). Photograph copyright © Krisztina
Krisztina Wajsza. Photograph © Franco Flückiger.
Krisztina Wajsza. Photo © Franco Flückiger.
The cover photograph of her 1999 debut album with
recordings of compositions mostly by Chopin as well as
one by Ravel and one by Kodály. Photo © Franco Flückiger.
Krisztina Wajsza. Photo © Franco Flückiger.