on May 5, 2004
Earl Wild has always been the embodiment of "bravura" pianism; that quality that so far exceeds the technical challenges of a piece that the music leaps off the page and becomes a living, breathing entity. In this disc, Wild at 88 shows his amazing powers are undiminished. The spectacular technique, the incomparable ability to shade any passage with infinite nuances are forever young.
In the Wild transcription of Marcello's Adagio, his rendering of the melody is heartbreakingly tender, simple and unforced. Too many pianists over the last twenty years have treated the Mozart F Major Sonata as a pretty-pretty roccoco salon piece. Wild here gives us a full-bodied treatment; the playing unhurried and fully realized. The Beethoven 32 Variations runs the gamut from ruminative and brooding one moment to savage and convulsive the next. Not having heard the Balakirev before, I'd have to call it a first rate performance of highly effective, but second-rate music. The A flat Impromptu of Chopin is performed with much red-blooded brio, although the playing in the latter part of the F# Major Impromptu becomes ultra careful. No matter. Wild's marvelous transcription of the Mexican Hat Dance is bound to keep many a conservatory student busy in despair over the next several years. Here, Wild is all over the keyboard, in grand style. The playing alternating between an explosive rhythmic propulsiveness and delicate, coy charm.
It seems no exaggeration at this point to call Wild a national treasure. This CD with its superb sound is a must buy for all who care about the art of the piano. Magic like this doesn't come along every day. More's the pity.
on June 8, 2010
Like many, I got to know Wild in the 1960s through his splendid RCA recordings of Gershwin with Fiedler and the Boston Pops. Never was interested in fleet fingers per se, so ignored him subsequently. My loss. This album features both the kind of playing and the audio quality many wish could be combined in recordings of the great early 20th-century piano masters (Godowsky, Rachmaninov, Hofmann, etc).
The least (IMHO) successful recording here may be the Mozart, yet it is surprisingly excellent. Even at age 88 Wild has kept up with current notions of Mozart's performance practice. Wild is playing on a modern instrument, and he allows himself the "luxury" of playing Mozart from the heart -- a heart nurtured on music from later periods. Still, his general aesthetic is on target, and his stylish embellishments in recapitulations are imaginative and often (if not always) something one could imagine Mozart doing. Above all, his musicality is fully engaged. So much for quibbles.
The highlight of the album is the Balakirev second sonata. (To my ears this is a deeply personal and wonderfully crafted sonata, by no means second rate.) I could imagine the cathartic finale being played with a tad more abandon (by, say, a 28-year-old), but Wild's rendition is never less than deft, and his poetic performance of the earlier movements defines how to advance the cause of a musically sophisticated but little known work. In a word, wow. And thank you, sir.
If Wild is not *quite* Richter in the aggregate stylistic perfection of his Beethoven (32 Variations, WoO80) and Chopin (Four Impromptus), he comes so darned close that one suspects he would be far more famous had he happened to be born Ukrainian.
Pianists and lovers of great piano playing will treasure this disc.
on May 21, 2015
I don't play an instrument nor am I a musician. I never knew of Earl Wild. The FIRST time hearing this CD...UNBELIEVABLE. Of the many pianists I've heard in my lifetime, nobody can match this man's skill and ability. It's uncanny that his pressing of each key sounds perfect with the perfect amount of pressure and each note has the perfect amount of decay.
I looked him up finally on google! Not surprising, at 3 years old he was a prodigy playing piano.
on June 29, 2014
Earl Wild is one of America’s true keyboard treasures, and if you have any doubts about the veracity of that statement, then you only have to listen to Earl Wild Recital (AKA Earl Wild at 88) on Ivory Classics, his own label. On this astonishing disc, Wild once again reveals the amazing diversity of his repertoire, which includes works by Alesandro Marcello, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven, Mily Alexeyevich Balakirev, Frederic Chopin, and Wilds arrangement of Jarab Tapatio’s Mexican Hat Dance.
The performances are simply stunning in every regard. Wild demonstrates superb technique, of course, but most impressive are his rounded tone and innate musicality. His interpretations are completely unmannered. As a pianist myself, I hear musicianship equaled by few and surpassed by none. Each of the above composers except Chopin receives exquisite performances of their work or works. The interpretations are precise, beautifully molded, and consistent with the period style.
Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat major is taken at a very fast tempo, one that I think makes it impossible to give adequate treatment of the special beauty of this impromptu. The second Impromptu in F-sharp major, receives a splendid account but one that lacks a clear cohesive concept. Impromptu No. 3 in G-flat major suffers like No. 1 with too fast a tempo with similar consequences. The Fantaisie-Impromptu No. 4 in C-sharp minor, in contrast, is given one of the most dynamic, exciting performances in recent memory. The “catching rainbows” section is of sublime beauty. Given the performances of the proceeding composers’ works, I was surprised and disappointed in Wild’s accounts of all but the final impromptu.
The recorded sound of the Shigeru Kawai EX Concert Grand is as beautiful as any piano I have ever heard. Every register is sublime and the Shigeru Kawai’s bass is awesome in its power. I wish I owned one. Soundstage is wide and center fill is ideal. With performances such as these on a piano as glorious as the one used, I must give this album MY HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!!