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Ivory Classics Music

Earl Wild - Wild About Liszt DVD

Earl Wild - Wild About Liszt DVD

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Ivory Classics DVD-77777

Wild About Liszt DVD

DISC 1 - Earl Wild At 'Wynyard'

- 'Liszt the Poet' July 26, 1986

  • Ballade No. 2 in B minor
  • Les Jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este
  • Fantasia quasi Sonata (Dante Sonata)
  • Funerailles
  • Sonetto del Petrarca Nos. 47, 104, 123
  • Valse Oubliee No. 1
  • Mephisto Polka
  • Mephisto Waltz No. 1
  • Encore: Respighi - Notturno

- 'Liszt the Transcriber' July 28, 1986

  • Bach/Liszt: Fantasia & Fugue in G minor
  • Beethoven/Liszt: Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21
  • Verdi/Liszt: Rigoletto Paraphrase
  • Schumann/Liszt: Widmung, Fruhlingsnacht
  • Chopin/Liszt: Mes Joies
  • Liszt/Liszt: Die Loreley
  • Wagner/Liszt: Spinning Chorus from "The Flying Dutchman"
  • Paganini/Liszt: Etude No. 2 (La Capricciosa)
  • Paganini/Liszt: Etude No. 5 (La Chasse)
  • Paganini/Liszt: Etude No. 3 (La Campanella)
  • Encore: Chopin/Wild - 'Larghetto' from Piano Concerto No. 2

- Documentary on 'Wynyard' and Liszt July 24 - 28, 1986

DISC 2 - Earl Wild - 'Pianist'

- 'Liszt the Virtuoso' July 30, 1986

  • Polonaise No. 2 in E major
  • Sonata in B minor
  • Three Etudes de Concert: La Leggierezza
  • Three Etudes de Concert: Un Sospiro
  • Three Etudes de Concert: Gnomenreigen
  • Four Etudes d'exécution transcendante: No. 3 (Paysage)
  • Four Etudes d'exécution transcendante: No. 2 (A minor)
  • Four Etudes d'exécution transcendante: No. 9 (Ricordanza)
  • Four Etudes d'exécution transcendante: No. 10 (F minor)
  • Three Hungarian Rhapsodies: No. 12
  • Three Hungarian Rhapsodies: No. 4
  • Three Hungarian Rhapsodies: No. 2
  • Encore: Eugène d'Albert - Scherzo in F#, Op. 16/2

- 'An Evening with Earl Wild' BBC-TV September 21, 1974

  • Liszt - Gnomenreigen
  • Liszt - Sonetto del Petrarca 104
  • Paganini/Liszt - La campanella
  • d'Albert - Scherzo in F# Op. 16/2
  • Chopin - Grande polonaise* in E-flat, Op. 22

- CBS-TV Sunday Morning with Earl Wild 1986

- Dutch TV interview with Earl Wild on the occasion of his 90th Birthday Concert in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw September 25, 2005


- Earl Wild speaking to the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music, November 6, 2003

- Mannes School International Keyboard Festival interview with Earl Wild - moderator Donald Manildi July 20, 2003 NYC

- John Amis on BBC's 'Talking About Music' with guest Earl Wild 1986

- Sharon Eisenhour interviews Earl Wild on WUHY Philadelphia July, 1982

Piano: Earl Wild

Disc I - 3 Hr. 43 Min.
Disc II - 3 Hr. 3 Min.
Bonus Audio - 124 Min.
Color, Stereo
This DVD can be played in All Regions

This project was made possible through the generous support of:
Mr. Jason Subotky, the JS Charitable Trust and the Ivory Classics Foundation

Production facility used: Mills - James Productions, Columbus, Ohio

Mr. Wild performed these three historic Liszt recitals in 1986 at the ancestral home of Lord Londonderry in the North of England. Considered by most to be the Liszt interpreter of the period, this double DVD is not to be missed. Bonus 2 hours of audio interviews included.


Stupendous! 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 ignore the foregoing - they shouldn't consider it to be at all limiting - and to consider the opening word of this review 'Stupendous!'

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 Martinu story, some fun stuff concerning Suppe overtures and an impromptu improvisation in the style of Poulenc.

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.

Jonathan Woolf, Music, Jan. 2008

I've always adored Earl Wild. After going through this extraordinary compendium of sight and sound, I love him a hundred times more. Yes, he deserved a far better piano for the historic 1986 recitals at England's Wynyard Park. The DVD booklet warns that the piano, shipped in from London, was not ideally adjusted. The documentary proves that the piano was at least tuned, although it didn't seem to hold the tuning very well in the late-July heat. I get the sense that Wild often had to fight the instrument to get something half decent out of it (what a shame that he could not have picked out an instrument in London before it arrived up north). As a result, Wild's playing sometimes goes uncharacteristically choppy. I'm sure that quite a few of the wrong notes can be blamed on the recalcitrant keyboard (like all great musicians, Wild plays his wrong notes the right way, without the slightest perturbation). As the recitals proceed, Wild progressively tames the beast a bit, I think.

Be all that as it may, we are surely much the richer because Tony Gaw (a friend of Lord Londonderry, owner of Wynyard) thoughtfully preserved this great occasion for us (the final July 30 recital began on the evening before the centennial of Liszt's passing; indeed, in the accompanying documentary Londonderry muses that the recital might even end close to the time of Liszt's death, which therefore must have come not long after midnight on July 31, 1886). I was fortunate to hear this same three-recital sequence (with the addition of the third *Liebestraum* as the opening of "Liszt the Poet") when Wild presented it in Cambridge, Mass., in April and May 1986, so I am thrilled to see that nearly all of it has been preserved.

By the way, the first two recitals, on DVD 1, are properly broken down into individual chapters. The final recital, on DVD 2, is one annoyingly continuous chapter).

Also worth noting: the 1974 BBC interview with Robin Ray contains five complete live performances in studio (on a vastly more responsive and better-recorded Bösendorfer, thank goodness):
- Liszt's *Gnomenreigen*, Sonetto del Petrarca 104, and *La campanella*
- d'Albert's Scherzo in F#
- Chopin's *Grande polonaise* in E-flat,
Op. 22

Here and elsewhere, Wild makes a persuasive case for transposing many 19th-century works down by up to a third (in Beethoven's case; more often, by a whole tone) to correct for the relentless rise in concert pitch. He demonstrates his point with Chopin's Op. 25/1 (the "Aeolian Harp" étude) and Op. 25/12 (the "Ocean" étude), playing the opening passages in their "correct" keys before transposing them down a full tone.

Perhaps the set's biggest "Easter egg" pops up in the middle of Wild's 1982 Philadelphia radio interview: a performance of Copland's Piano Concerto, with Copland leading The Symphony of the Air (whose presence necessarily dates the recording to somewhere between 1954 and 1963).

The other video extras feature Wild at the keyboard, but only in snippets. The audio interviews are just as delightful as their video counterparts. Among the many revelations from these extras: Wild began playing Scharwenka's First Piano Concerto when he was 14, so he was more than ready when Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony needed a soloist for their classic 1969 recording. Throughout, Wild is unpretentiously charming and often howlingly funny as he reflects on his extraordinary life (Wild tells several illuminating Toscanini anecdotes and provides direct evidence about Debussy's youthful visit to Spain from Debussy's traveling companion Henry Hornbostel, the principal architect for Carnegie Mellon University, whom Wild met as a 19-year-old student). Lastly, there is a voluminous photo gallery filled with historic and contemporary images about Wynyard Park (you'll need to hit the pause button to take in big texts like those from old newspaper articles).

All in all, this set exploits just about everything a DVD can do with image and sound. It's a fabulous romp and a reference for the ages. I pray that Wild makes it to 100 and beyond with all his wits. What a sorry world we will have when his exuberant spirit takes flight., Jan. 2008

To commemorate the centenary of the death of Franz Liszt in 1986, the great American pianist Earl Wild performed a series of three synoptic all-Liszt concerts. Wild called the programs "Liszt the Poet," "Liszt the Transcriber," and "Liszt the Virtuoso." Wild's performances of the music from those historic Liszt recitals have been available on CD for quite some time.

But now we have extraordinary news: In July of 1986, Wild was invited by the 9th Marquess of Londonderry, an ardent Liszt devotee, to perform all three recitals at his ancestral home in northern England -- where Wild's performances were videotaped! Those tapes were recently transferred to DVD, and this handsomely packaged 2-DVD set is now available for the first time. The set, suitably called "Wild About Liszt," also contains absorbing bonus material, including several illuminating interviews. Two of them are especially worth noting: Wild's witty interview with the widely respected piano authority, Donald Manildi in 2003 at the Mannes School International Keyboard Festival; the other for Dutch TV in 2005, that was done in connection with the recital Wild gave to celebrate his 90th birthday at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam -- a concert that twice elicited an outpouring of critical raves for the nonagenarian, because soon after the triumphant Amsterdam recital Wild repeated the program at Carnegie Hall.

It is generally accepted as a given, and it is confirmed here, that Wild ranks among the greatest of Liszt players. And it is wonderful to report that the DVDs are first-rate. In fact, they're a piano-lover's dream: for a single stationary camera placed in the center aisle gives us Wild waist up from the side, with his omnipotent fingers and the keyboard always clearly visible -- there are none of those distracting breakaways from the pianist's hands to show him gazing raptly at the heavens (though Wild has never condescended to mugging for an audience in any event). If the sound doesn't measure up to the highest demands of a zealous audiophile -- that is, let's say, to the lofty standards of Ivory Classics, the label with which Wild has become identified -- it is still remarkably good. Especially if we remember that these live performances were filmed not in a studio or in an acoustically tailored concert hall, but rather in a statue gallery that was used as a salon at a private estate. The point will quickly become moot to serious lovers of great piano playing, whose ears will immediately respond to the power and beauty of Wild's playing, just as music lovers of the past were able to hear beyond the limits of the recording technologies of their time.

There have been quite a few great Liszt players in the modern era, among them Brendel, Cziffra, Horowitz, Richter, Bolet, Arrau, Berman, and more recently Stephen Hough. None has been greater or more consistently satisfying than Earl Wild, who is himself a keyboard Poet (listen to his recording of the complete Chopin nocturnes or to his arrangements of Rachmaninov songs for solo piano, which often surpass the originals in beauty), a Transcriber (try his Grammy Award-winning CD "Earl Wild: Virtuoso Piano Transcriptions" or his scintillating Gershwin arrangements) and, of course, Wild is a great Virtuoso (hear his sizzling Brahms' "Paganini Variations" or his breathtaking performance of Leopold Godowsky's finger-twisting show-stopper "Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes from Johann Strauss's `Artist's Life'," with its many contrapuntal voices, shifting chromatic harmonies and labyrinthine technical complexities). Fortunately, most of Wild's remarkably extensive, incredibly rich discography is available at the pianist's website (

Elliot Ravetz,, Aug. 2007

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