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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Earl Wild plays Liszt (1985 Sessions)



  1. Années de pèlerinage II - Italie, S. 161: 7. Après une lecture du Dante. Fantasia quasi Sonata
  2. Années de pèlerinage II - Italie, S. 161: 4. Sonetto 47 del Petrarca
  3. Années de pèlerinage II - Italie, S. 161: 5. Sonetto 104 del Petrarca
  4. Années de pèlerinage II - Italie, S. 161: 6. Sonetto 123 del Petrarca
  5. Années de pèlerinage III, S. 163: 4. Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este
  6. Ballade No. 2 in B minor, S. 171
  7. Liebesträume, S. 541: No. 2 in E flat major "Seliger Tod"
  8. Liebesträume, S. 541: No. 3 in A flat major "Oh Lieb, so lang du lieben kannst"
  9. 3 Études de concert, S. 144: No. 3 in D flat major "Un sospiro"
  1. Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, S. 463 (from Bach's BWV 542): 1. Fantasia (Grave)
  2. Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, S. 463 (from Bach's BWV 542): 2. Fugue (Allegro)
  3. Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178: Lento assai -
  4. Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178: Fugue. Allegro energico -
  5. Die Loreley, S. 532
  6. Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S. 173: 7. Funérailles
  7. 6 Polish Songs, S. 480: 5. Meine Freuden (from Chopin's Moja pieszczotka)
  8. Mephisto Polka, S. 217
  9. Consolation, S. 172: No. 3 in D flat major

Earl Wild, piano
Date: 1985
Label: Ivory Classics



In 1985 Earl Wild recorded three double albums of Liszt’s music for the Dutch Etcetera label. Here is a generous cross-section of that material for those who missed it the first time around. I’m pleased to report that Ivory Classics’ remasterings reveal a more three-dimensional soundstage than before, even though the close, airless miking doesn’t always allow Wild’s singing tone, masterful pedal effects, and color shadings to congeal as they should. That said, these selections cover a broad spectrum of Liszt’s diverse piano output and make an ideal introduction to his music. More importantly, Wild never fails to channel his virtuosity toward musical ends. He declaims rather than rushes through the Dante Sonata’s myriad octave passages, and similarly takes time to orchestrate the B minor Ballade’s groaning chromatic runs in the bass. The pianist also resists the temptation to turn Funérailles’ central section into a mere octave etude, taking trouble to shape the rising right-hand chords.

Wild spent his formative years working with opera singers, and it really shows in lyrical selections like the three Petrarca Sonettos, the Third Consolation, the Chopin/Liszt song My Joys, plus the Second and Third Liebesträume. Un Sospiro is refreshingly direct and free of treacle. On the other hand, Wild seems a bit impatient to get through the Sonata’s more lyrical sentiments, such as the magical, quiet scales right before the fugue. I prefer his earlier recording (once available on a Quintessence LP) for its riper sonics and greater thrust in the heroic sections. Likewise, Wild’s 1985 Mephisto Polka seems a shade slack compared to his classic 1968 recording on The Demonic Liszt (Vanguard)–one of the all-time great Liszt recitals in phonographic history. My niggling reservations should not detract anyone from buying this set, which deserves a worthy place in any good piano library. [8/22/2001]

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday

More reviews:


Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a prolific 19th-century Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, organist, philanthropist, author, nationalist and a Franciscan tertiary. Liszt gained renown in Europe for his virtuosic skill as a pianist and in the 1840s he was considered to be the greatest pianist of all time. As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent composers of the "New German School". Some of his most notable musical contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form, and making radical departures in harmony.


Earl Wild (November 26, 1915 – January 23, 2010) was an American pianist, renowned as a leading virtuoso of his generation. He was well known for his transcriptions of classical music and jazz, and he was also a composer. In 1939, he became the first pianist to perform a recital on U.S. television. Wild created numerous virtuoso solo piano transcriptions and also wrote a number of original works. In 1997 he was the first pianist to stream a performance over the Internet. Harold C. Schonberg called him a "super-virtuoso in the Horowitz class".


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