Wild about Liszt DVD1: Recitals
Liszt the Poet
Liszt the Transcriber
Liszt the Virtuoso (see end of review for details) DVD2: TV appearances
Earl Wild at “Wynyard” (1986)
Liszt the Virtuoso
An Evening with Earl Wild, BBC TV (September 1974)
CBS TV Sunday Morning with Earl Wild (1986)
Dutch TV interview with Earl Wild on his 90th birthday (September
2005) Audio tracks
Earl Wild speaking to Carnegie Mellon University School of Music (November 2003)
Mannes School International Keyboard Festival interview with Earl Wild, July
Talking About Music BBC, Earl Wild interviewed by John Amis (1986)
Sharon Eisenhour interviews Earl Wild on WUHY (July 1982)
Earl Wild (piano)
Format - NTSC; 4:3; PCM stereo IVORY CLASSICS 77777 [2
DVDs: 223:00 + 183:00 + 124:00 audio]
There are two DVDs in this collection containing nearly six
hours of Earl Wild’s Liszt performances and there is an additional
two hours of audio material. The recitals were given in 1986
at “Wynyard” a large country house in the
Tees Valley in the North East of England that had belonged
to the Ninth Marquess and before that to generations of the
Marquesses of Londonderry. The house and grounds were sold
the following year to Sir John Hall. The concerts marked the
centenary of Liszt’s death.
Wild gave three recitals there before a select audience and
each was captured in its entirety on a non-professional set-up.
The sound and vision therefore are in no way to be considered
up to contemporary standards. There is a single camera and
it remains static for much of the time, which has its advantages,
in its close focus on Wild. Inevitably dynamics don’t register
with as much immediacy as one might hope, and there is a disclaimer
regarding the treble voicings of the Steinway sent to the House
from London. These facts having been duly noted let me advise
confirmed Wildeans, and indeed Lisztians to pretty more ignore
the foregoing - should they consider it to be at all limiting
- and to consider the opening word of this review.
Wild’s playing throughout all three recitals – he plays without
music of course – is cut from legendary cloth. He was then
in his early seventies – at the time of writing he’s in his
early nineties – but plays with astonishing accuracy, bravura
and poetry. The hands are a complete blur, a positive Braque
of colour, in the Second Ballade even though here, and throughout,
his stance is still, concentrated and without any extraneous
gestures (he has some scathing things to say in the audio segment
about the “eyes to the heaven” merchants who populate concert
halls). Jeux d’eau is wonderfully voiced, so rich and poetic,
the Fantasia quasi Sonata gripping
from the first bars, the Valse oubliée No.1 playful and skittish;
as a treat we hear an encore of the Respighi Notturno.
The recital Liszt the Transcriber includes the transcription of Beethoven’s First Symphony – and dare
one say that one listens to a piano work in Wild’s hands without
the burning need to hear the orchestra? Maybe not, but nearly.
Everything Wild touches turns to prismic gold; the touch is
wonderful, the technique assured, equal to all torrential demands,
and the conception – the mind animating the fingers – of stellar
architectural understanding. The encore here, the Larghetto
from the Second Chopin Concerto in Wild’s arrangement, is gorgeous.
And so it goes, through the Virtuoso recital that rightly
crowns the three with its tension inducing feats of brilliance.
The sonata performance is, in my experience, pretty much second
only to Horowitz’s. As with the etudes he essays, the results
in this recital are simply transcendent. And how appropriate
that Wild announces the Op.16 No.2 Scherzo by Liszt’s pupil
d’Albert as an encore.
On BBC Television in 1974 with that urbane and charming man, the late
Robin Ray, Wild elucidates his thoughts and performs the d’Albert
scherzo, the Pertrach sonnet, Gnomenreigen, La Campanella and
the Chopin Grande Polonaise in E flat. The other TV appearances
find Wild in later years, though still as personable and amusing.
He plays a little of his Marcello Oboe concerto slow movement
transcription (not noted – hear it in its full glory on an
Ivory Classics CD).
The audio component is full of sagacious and naughty nuggets. “Banging
is for the bedroom” is one – current klaviertigers, please
note. Lang Lang is “pure vaudeville.” He talks extensively
about Toscanini and valuably so given his NBC connections.
In the Mannes interview he’s on even wittier, bantering form.
He talks about transposition – he has a thing about transposing
Chopin into keys that work better for him – recording, and
refers to the unfortunate Lang Lang once again, this time to
call him “the J Lo of the Piano.” With John Amis back in 1986,
the year of the “Wynyard” recitals,
we get engaging vignettes and a real sense of conviviality
and shared amusement between the two
men. We get a Martinů story, some fun stuff concerning
Suppé overtures and an impromptu improvisation in the style
I will add a minor disappointment. Navigation is difficult. You can’t
navigate between items and will have to fast forward within
the recitals. That’s if you feel the need to do so. I think
you’d be better off clearing the decks for the evening, stocking
up with a bottle of single malt and, given Wild’s acts of Lisztian
bravura, a mechanical device to keep your jaw from dislocating
itself of its own volition.
Recital details 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 Petrarca Nos. 47, 104, 123
Valse Oubliée 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, Frühlingsnacht
Chopin/Liszt: Mes Joies
Liszt/Liszt: Die Lorely
Wagner/Liszt: Spinning Song from "The Flying Dutchman"
Paganini/Liszt: Etude No. 2, No. 5, No. 3
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:
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