Here, in one single-width case, you have one of the paradigms of the catalogue.
For years this was a sleeper resting in the obscurity of the Reader's Digest
subscriber archive. Wild's performances are now easily available via this
set and the differently coupled three discs available in the USA from Chesky
(variously coupled with Macdowell Piano Concerto No. 2 and most missed in
the present company Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead).
Ardour and darkly glowing passion light up these works with uncommon muscularity.
Wild's standing as a virtuoso is well and truly affirmed by these eloquent
performances. Every moment is alive to dynamic subtlety as well as pliant
ebb and flow. Horenstein, much associated with the Mahler and Bruckner, still
seems a strange choice as conductor but the chemistry worked and the enchantment
There are details to be regretted such as the decision to use the shorter
version of the third piano concerto. The recording is getting on for 35 years
old and no doubt greater refinement is on tap in technical terms from more
recent digital performances but once again the music making excels all and
Chandos have drawn on the deep pile luxury of the original analogue spools
to extract a splendid sound. Wild's self-intoxicated yet still taut performances
banish all regrets while the music is playing and long after silence has
settled on the loudspeakers. If you are looking to be further convinced try
sampling the last movement of the second piano concerto where astounding
solo playing is complemented by whip-crack playing from 'Beecham's orchestra'.
The ecstatic moaning of the orchestra in the climactic third movement of
the third concerto is also notable. Both the unfashionable first and fourth
concertos yield up new glories in the hands of these artists. The Paganini
set is done with uncommon brilliance although I thought that the famous string
anthem did not ring as sumptuously as it might have done in other recordings.
Design, as with all the Enchant series, is matchless: rich, dark and brooding.
Trilingual notes are by John Cox.
For a single set at mid-price and allowing for a shorter version third concerto,
there is no true competition. I confidently recommend this set which contains
so many memorable and deeply moving and viscerally exciting moments. It beggars
belief that these sessions in the now demolished Kingsway Hall can have been
so consistently successful. They will be enjoyed down all the years.