David Wilde plays CHOPIN, Vol. 2 – 2 Nocturnes; Polonaise in A-flat Major; Piano Sonata No. 2; Nocturne in E-flat Major; Prelude in D-flat Major; Fantasie in F Minor – David Wilde, p. – Delphian

by | Apr 21, 2015 | Classical CD Reviews

David Wilde plays CHOPIN, Vol. 2 – 2 Nocturnes, Op. 27; Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53; Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 35; Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2; Prelude in D-flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15; Fantasie in F Minor, Op. 49 – David Wilde, piano – Delphian DCD34138, 78:17 (12/9/14) [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:  

In choosing the program for his second Chopin installment, recorded August-December 2013, David Wilde (b. 1935) commemorates his beloved wife Jane, who died in August of that year. Of particular poignancy, Wilde’s rendition of the C-sharp Minor Nocturne, Op. 27, No. 1 reverberates with ghostly sonorities that, for the pianist, resonate as if in “eerie dialogue from opposite sides of the Great Divide.” The immediacy of the D-flat Major Nocturne’s thoroughly vocal, cantabile style provides a complementary contrast to the prior opus, granting us and Wilde what Liszt termed “consolation.” Wilde proves himself a worthy successor to the most articulate of all British advocates of the Chopin style, Solomon Cutner (1902-1988).  The fioritura and cadenza passages of this miraculously glistening work reverberate in striking, pearly play from Wilde’s Steinway, the stunning sound courtesy of producer/engineer Paul Baxter.

The oft-familiar “Heroic” Polonaise in A-flat Major rings true to its two imperatives, bold and resonant octaves in the outer sections, and “the prancing of the Polish cavalry” in its E Major middle section. Wilde’s left hand certainly maintains a potent ostinato over which the almost unearthly pace of the national spirit soars in manic pride. Wilde confesses his admiration for Artur Rubinstein as a model for the realization of this epic score. The heroic impulse then extends to Wilde’s rendition of the B-flat Minor Sonata, Op. 35 “Funeral March,” composed 1837-1839. Besides the tempestuous gusto of his Doppio movimento section, Wilde takes the repeat, adding a greater dramatic breadth to this passionate score.  The modulation to the climactic G Minor statement Wilde shades in a gradual but grand scale, always aware of th underlying pulsation that wants to gallop to the abyss. The left hand and middle double notes contribute to the dazzling three-hand effect Liszt admired. The D-flat Major restful melody comes as an oasis in the midst of an emotional maelstrom.

The dark Scherzo (in E-flat Minor) presents two contrary impulses, hectically demonic and lyrically subdued, the latter section in G-flat, to which Wilde imparts a wistful nostalgia. For the epic Funeral March, Wilde chooses as his model Anton Rubinstein, who imparted a decided program upon the movement, set as mourners’ approaching, entering, and departing from a chapel. Consequently, the broad slow scale of Wilde’s realization – at twelve and one half minutes – takes its cue from the historic recording by Sergei Rachmaninov, whose own conception embraced a cosmic drama of the departed. The weeping character of the upward scales and the later poco a poco diminuendo prove quite shattering, given the tearful reflections of the middle section. The bass chords alone invoke Mussorgsky. Finally, the maligned Presto movement, here rendered in the manner of Fuseli, as if some incubus or specter oversees the graves in Abel Gance’s tragic film J’Accuse.

The two succeeding major-key piece may intend to relieve the gloom of the Sonata, especially the E-flat Major Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2, given a genial, relatively unmannered rendition. Wilde does graduate his dynamics thoughtfully, adjusting his shifting interior tempo according to the harmonic rhythm. The D-flat Major “Raindrop” Prelude appears to be Wilde’s favorite, as it was of Shura Cherkassky. Wilde keeps us aware of the manic A-flat ostinato that haunts this exalted song. The C-sharp Minor middle section proves fearsome and compelling, for all the apparent “lyricism” of the moment.

Wilde concludes with the episodic yet explosive 1841 Fantasie in F Minor, which Chopin declared found completion on a sunny day that also held sadness in his heart. Based on motifs from a Polish song of rebellion, the piece may light, in Adorno’s words, a path to a resurrected Poland. But as a combination of triumph and despair, the work proves appropriate to Wilde’s valedictory aims. The music combines Chopin’s extraordinary harmonic breadth with an anguished lyricism taken from the best of Schubert. If its Aeolian harp melodic tissue eternally resurrects Wilde’s wife Jane’s spirit, then, like Chopin, Wilde’s record, in Frederick Nieck’s phrase, justifies “the force of passion.”

—Gary Lemco

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