Wild About Liszt
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Earl Wild in Concert - first commercial DVD release! Mr. Wild in performances of three historic Liszt recitals; 'The Poet' 'The Transcriber' and 'The Virtuoso' - taped in 1986 at the ancestral home of Lord Londonderry in the North of England. Considered by most to be the Liszt interpreter of our period, this two disc (double layered) DVD should not be missed. Added bonus tracks of 2 hours of audio interviews and 100s of photos included.
About the Actor
Earl Wild - pianist see website at: www.EarlWild.com
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But now we have extraordinary news: In July of 1986, Wild was invited by the 9th Marquess of Londonderry, an ardent Liszt devotee, to perform all three recitals at his ancestral home in northern England -- where Wild's performances were videotaped! Those tapes were recently transferred to DVD, and this handsomely packaged 2-DVD set is now available for the first time. The set, suitably called "Wild About Liszt," also contains absorbing bonus material, including several illuminating interviews. Two of them are especially worth noting: Wild's witty interview with the widely respected piano authority, Donald Manildi in 2003 at the Mannes School International Keyboard Festival; the other for Dutch TV in 2005, that was done in connection with the recital Wild gave to celebrate his 90th birthday at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam -- a concert that twice elicited an outpouring of critical raves for the nonagenarian, because soon after the triumphant Amsterdam recital Wild repeated the program at Carnegie Hall.
It is generally accepted as a given, and it is confirmed here, that Wild ranks among the greatest of Liszt players. And it is wonderful to report that the DVDs are first-rate. In fact, they're a piano-lover's dream: for a single stationary camera placed in the center aisle gives us Wild waist up from the side, with his omnipotent fingers and the keyboard always clearly visible -- there are none of those distracting breakaways from the pianist's hands to show him gazing raptly at the heavens (though Wild has never condescended to mugging for an audience in any event). If the sound doesn't measure up to the highest demands of a zealous audiophile -- that is, let's say, to the lofty standards of Ivory Classics, the label with which Wild has become identified -- it is still remarkably good. Especially if we remember that these live performances were filmed not in a studio or in an acoustically tailored concert hall, but rather in a statue gallery that was used as a salon at a private estate. The point will quickly become moot to serious lovers of great piano playing, whose ears will immediately respond to the power and beauty of Wild's playing, just as music lovers of the past were able to hear beyond the limits of the recording technologies of their time.
There have been quite a few great Liszt players in the modern era, among them Brendel, Cziffra, Horowitz, Richter, Bolet, Arrau, Berman, and more recently Stephen Hough. None has been greater or more consistently satisfying than Earl Wild, who is himself a keyboard Poet (listen to his recording of the complete Chopin nocturnes or to his arrangements of Rachmaninov songs for solo piano, which often surpass the originals in beauty), a Transcriber (try his Grammy Award-winning CD "Earl Wild: Virtuoso Piano Transcriptions" or his scintillating Gershwin arrangements) and, of course, Wild is a great Virtuoso (hear his sizzling Brahms' "Paganini Variations" or his breathtaking performance of Leopold Godowsky's finger-twisting show-stopper "Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes from Johann Strauss's `Artist's Life'," with its many contrapuntal voices, shifting chromatic harmonies and labyrinthine technical complexities). Fortunately, most of Wild's remarkably extensive, incredibly rich discography is available at the pianist's website -- [...]
If you love Liszt, you'll be wild about Wild.
Liszt the Poet
Ballade No. 2 in B minor
Les Jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este
Fantasia quasi Sonata (Dante Sonata)
Sonetto del Petraraca Nos. 47, 104, 123
Valse Oubliee No. 1
Mephisto Waltz No. 1
Encore: Respighi - Notturno
Liszt the Transcriber
Bach/Liszt: Fantasia & Fugue in G minor
Beethoven/Liszt: Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21
Verdi/Liszt: Rigoletto Paraphrase
Schumann/Liszt: Widmung, Fruhlingsnacht
Chopin/Liszt: Mes Joies
Liszt/Liszt: Die Lorely
Wagner/Liszt: Spinning Song from "The Flying Dutchman"
Paganini/Liszt: Etude No. 2 (La Capricciosa),
Paganini/Liszt: No. 5 (La Chasse),
Paganini/Liszt: No. 3 (La Campanella)
Encore: Chopin/Wild - Larghetto from Piano Concerto No. 2
Liszt the Virtuoso
Polonaise No. 2 in E major
Sonata in B minor
Three Etudes de Concert:
This is one those DVD sets (a great bargain for all of its quality content) that deserves six stars but I pull it back to five stars (merely extraordinary) for two reasons. The first is the generla lack of documentation about the content of the program -- there is no list of what Wild played in each program, though the booklet says (for example) that he played a transcription of a Beethoven symphony without identifying the symphony. This is compounded by the fact that that each of the three recitals is presented as one track with no cueing for individual pieces. The only hint of what is being played is a quick flash of a listing of a line of program booklet as you play through the DVD. It is a shame that there is not better tracking, in that you can spend a very long time holding the fast forward button to get to a particualr piece (once you know what the program is), only to have go back a bit to get to the beginning of a piece. This seems to be a major oversight that mars an otherwise outstanding set.
As noted in the previous review, the visuals of the concerts are quite good. Generally a well focused camera on the pianist that allows you to watch him at a reasonable distance while still seeing his hands clearly to see how he actually makes his way through these (sometimes fiendishly difficult) pieces. One thing that impresses me about Wild is his generally staid manner at the keyboard. He sits quite still with little swaying, hands generally close to the keyboard, and has none of the mugging and miming that you see in many pianists (who also give swooning looks to the heaven).
A great set of concerts here (also available of CD). It is just a shame and well worth noting that the producers of the DVD didn't see the need for an overall program listing and also tracking on the DVDs to get to individual pieces.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
* Fantastic selection of Liszt's works
* Top-notch performance
* Sound quality is poor, and has a sight hiss...Read more
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