Earl Wild at 30 = SCARLATTI: Sonata in D Major; MENDELSSOHN: Capriccio; DAQUIN: Le Coucou; MOUSSORGSKY: Ein Kinderscherz in D; RACHMANINOV: Polichinelle; Prelude in G Major; MacDowell: Hexantanz; LISZT: Sonata; CHOPIN: Polonaise “Heroic” – Ivory Classics

by | Sep 28, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Earl Wild at 30 = SCARLATTI: Sonata in D Major, K. 96;
MENDELSSOHN: Capriccio, Op. 16, No. 2; DAQUIN: Le Coucou; MOUSSORGSKY:
Ein Kinderscherz in D; RACHMANINOV: Polichinelle, Op. 3, No. 4; Prelude
in G Major, Op. 32, No. 5; MacDowell: Hexantanz, Op. 17, No. 2; LISZT:
Sonata in B Minor; CHOPIN: Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53 “Heroic”

Ivory Classics 74003  53:40 (Distrib. VAI) ***:

Ivory Classics, which often serves as a venue for the inscribed legacy
of American piano virtuoso Earl Wild (b. 1915), has issued a disc
devoted to performances given for radio broadcasts during the 1940s.
After WJZ officially became WABC, Wild came under contract in 1946 for
The Piano Playhouse to be aired on Sundays. Most of the opening pieces
derive from NBC broadcasts Wild made while in New York City earlier in
the decade. Several of the 16” acetates on which the programs were
recorded have been rescued from deterioration. The Liszt Sonata in this
collection, for instance, derives from one of the broadcasts from
1949.  The remastering, by Ed Thompson, is quiet, but the acoustic
is often dry and dead in spots, and the piano sound occasionally
tinny.  Still, the Wild magic shines forth in the brilliant
filigree, say, in MacDowell and Mendelssohn, in the pearly play of the
Rachmaninov G Major Prelude, and the brittle salon style of
Moussorgsky’s Children’s Piece, with its look ahead to Balakirev’s
Islamey. The Liszt B Minor Sonata is Wild’s signature piece: in spite
of some gritty crackle in the sound, the feast-at-one gulp approach is
both volatile and poetic at once.  Like Schubert’s Wanderer
Fantasy, the single-movement piece seems to fall into a series of
marked episodes which Wild is careful to shape with architectural and
harmonic care. The quality of the sound, however, may prevent
audiophiles and all but the most ardent Earl Wild devotees from
entering a well-trodden realm where more acoustically gratifying
inscriptions lie. The Chopin Polonaise has suave articulation without
jingoistic pomposity. Very sober and effective playing throughout by an
American virtuoso whose career and repertory by the 1940s could have
easily been likened to that of Claudio Arrau.

–Gary Lemco

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