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Ivory Classics Music

Earl Wild: In Concert Volume 1

Earl Wild: In Concert Volume 1

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Ivory Classics CD-78001

EARL WILD: In Concert Volume 1

Franz Haydn (1732-1809):
Sonata No.50 in D Major, Hob.XVI:37

Piano: Earl Wild
Producer: Michael Rolland Davis
Engineer: Ed Thompson
Piano: Baldwin (tracks 1-13), Bosendorfer (14-16)

The five works on this release span a thirty-six-year period of live concerts in the career of Earl Wild, from four cities: London; College Park, Maryland; Columbus, Ohio; and New York City. Of these five selected works, four are new repertoire on disc for Earl Wild, only a studio version of the Mozart Sonata K.332 has been released prior to this CD.


This artfully constructed program is actually a compilation album drawn from disparate source material. The Haydn sonata comes from a University of Maryland recital in 1982. It sounds as if it were recorded on cassette though the actual sound itself is not at all bad. Wild's articulation is crisp and even in the opening and he brings a reflective stillness to the slow movement. Things are weighted and also freighted with depth, not least in the expressively rolled chords. He relishes the skittish fun embedded in the finale and plays it with requisite liveliness.

Mozart's Variations on a theme by Gluck K455 offers even more opportunity for playfulness, as well as a slightly more extended canvas. Wild plays with a sure appreciation of the comedic, operatic elements of the writing, and ensures that deft articulation conveys them.

The Clementi sonata was recorded at the YMHA in NYC in 1978 and is the second earliest of the recordings. Again it's not a perfect recording and I don't think anyone is pretending it is. Nevertheless, it does preserve a performance that once again brims with commitment and assurance. Articulation is one of the buzzwords of the playing: here it is bright and almost, at points, fortepiano-ish. Perhaps the finest moments emerge in the central movement in which the rolled, almost guitar-like quality that Wild evokes supports the decorative finery of the aria that is spun out with such grace. This is lovely playing.

Perhaps the biggest find in the set of performances comes with Buxtehude's Suite. This is a Voice of America recording via the Library of Congress. It was recorded in 1951. It has been released before but didn't achieve large circulation. It was taken down in Carnegie Hall, and though somewhat dully recorded it courses with romantic nobility and generosity of phrasing. There is plenty of warmly moulded and coloristic playing here, as well as a sure sense of drama, and subtle differentiation of the character of each piece. Try for example the stark gravity of the Sarabande.

The final piece is Mozart's K332 Sonata, taped in London in 1980. He captures an improvisatory element in the sonata, through free embellishments, though tends to eschew repeats. He is lovingly but not indulgently expressive in the slow movement and is full of panache, pose and personality in the finale. It completes a vivid performance.

Wild's legion of admirers will want to grab this ∑early music example of his pianism. Sonic considerations are really minimal in light of the rarity of some of these items.

Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International, Dec. 2009

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