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Earl Wild at 88 - Recital
Alessandro MARCELLO (1684-1750)

Oboe Concerto in D minor - Adagio arr Wild
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Piano Sonata in F major K332
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

32 Variations in C minor WoO80
Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910)

Piano Sonata No. 1 in B minor Op. 5 (1905)
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Four Impromptus
No. 1 in A flat major Op. 29
No. 2 in F sharp major Op. 36
No. 3 in G flat major Op. 51
Fantasie-Impromptu in C sharp minor Op. 66
Earl WILD (b. 1915)
Jarabe Tapatio Mexican Hat Dance arr. Wild
Earl Wild (piano)
Recorded in the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Buffalo, New York May 2003
IVORY CLASSICS 73005 [78.14]


The indestructible Earl Wild demonstrates once again why he is held in such admiration with this latest release from Ivory Classics, a company that has at last given him a deserved slew of recordings. In this disc the recital forms a satisfying arch, opening with the limpid beauty of Wild’s Marcello arrangement and ending with his concert encore bonanza, the Mexican Hat Dance. I say limpid beauty but that quite fails to convey the sheer tonal allure that Wild cultivates from his favoured Shigeru Kawai Ex Concert Grand, a piano he has embraced recently. The pleasing acoustic adds "cream" to the music making, which is august and noble, with chords weighted wonderfully and the right hand tracery proclaiming in every bar Wild’s status as Romantic icon. His recital embraces two sonatas at its core. Mozart’s well-known F major K332 opens wittily with those flaring basses lit with aplomb and the pointing deliciously apt. His ornaments are effective and attractive and his passagework gloriously clear. Does he open this allegro with slightly too much pedal? Such thoughts tend to vanish when confronted with playing of this calibre as we can happily witness in the sensitivity of phrasing of the Adagio and the sheer fluency of the finale.

His Beethoven Variations – no mean piece technically – causes commensurately few problems. The difficulty of the repeated notes is barely a burden to Wild and he explores both the intensity and drama of the piece with great reserves of colour and naturalness of expression. Nothing sounds at all forced or awkward. His Balakirev joins one of several notable recordings over the decades – Kentner’s was one of the first and most commanding – and does so with vibrancy and rhythmic surety. In the direction from the first movement’s Andantino to L’istesso tempo Wild demonstrates both introverted tension and joyous vivacity, qualities that recur throughout the sonata, most especially in the Mazurka – probably the standout movement, even though it had earlier had independent life as the Mazurka No 5 in D. There’s great delicacy in the Intermezzo and a buoyant song and dance finale. Of the Chopin Impromptus – which he plays with communicative affection – it’s the F sharp major that really takes the ear with its singing grandeur and beautifully voiced lines. The Fantasie-Impromptu is not far behind – supple, crisp, with finely judged rubati and a dreamy central panel. And then to conclude, the riotous Mexican Hat Dance, a knees up, hair down extravagance of a transcription and a well deserved conclusion to this admirable and generous recital.

Jonathan Woolf


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