Ivory Classics CD-71003
Earl Wild: Schumann/Dohnányi Piano Quintets
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Piano: Earl Wild
Chamber: American String Orchestra
Conductor: Isaiah Jackson
Producer: Michael Rolland Davis
Engineer: Ed Thompson
Piano Technician: Edd Kolakowski
(DDD) Recorded March 13-14. 2000,
in Corbett Auditorium, Cincinnati, Ohio
Mastered using 24-Bit State-of-the-Art Technology - HDCD Encoded
Two brilliant Romantic piano quintets, universally regarded as chamber music masterpieces, are recorded here for the first time in elegantly expanded versions for piano with string orchestra. The lush sonics and gorgeous textures originally imagined by both, Schumann and Dohnányi vividly come alive in these dramatic performances recorded in March 2000 using 24-bit technology.
Here is Earl Wild, a master octogenarian virtuoso in rude pianistic health, aristocratic as ever in Schumann's effervescent Quintet, romantically responsive in Dohnanyi's Brahms-inspired Op.1. Engineer Ed Thompson has been careful to maintain a workable chamber music balance, which means that Wild's warm sounding Baldwin is nicely integrated into the full string texture. Performances are spirited and unmannered, projecting tastefully augmented bass lines and an eager enthusiasm. Recommended to all pianophiles, chamberphobes and incurable romantics. A lyrical testament to Wild's veteran abilities...There's a beautiful first-movement second subject and a waltz-style scherzo that takes residence in your brain as soon as it enters.
Gramophone, Jun. 2001
In this release, Earl Wild has augmented the strings and added a bass part to these great quintets. The result is a unique listening experience that packs a huge emotional punch. Wild plays both the Schumann and the Dohnanyi with breathtaking virtuosity and sumptuous poetry with strong support from the strings. This is the Schumann Piano Quintet as you have never heard it: passionate, yearning, and seething with authentic romantic fervor. This disc shows Wild at his brilliant best accompanied by absolutely gorgeous string playing. It's an astonishingly fine release.
American Record Guide, Oct. 2000
The real interest in this CD lies in the performances by Earl Wild, which can only be called astonishing. Wild was hovering around his 85th birthday at the time he recorded these two works; and while there have been other pianists (from Plante and Sauer to Rubinstein and Horszowski) who have recorded well into their eighties, only Eubie Blake, in my experience, came close to matching Wild's freshness (in both senses) of spirit - and no on else, not even Horowitz, managed to keep his fingers in such fine estate. What's most striking about these readings is their combination of superficially antithetical qualities. On the one hand, they are both remarkable youthful performances. Not youthful in the sense of being pushy or aggressive- not even in the urgent account of the agitato form the second movement of the Schumann would you mistake these for the product of the latest hotshot competition winner. But they are marked by a buoyancy, a lightness of touch, an improvisatory flexibility, and (most of all) a distrust of gravity that keeps the music, even at its most serious, from turning solemn. Like all of the recordings Wild has made during the last decade or so, they manifest the kind of wisdom in the treatment of details that comes only from a lifetime of experience. Listen, for example, to the dexterous handling of the tricky rhythmic displacements in the third movement of the Schumann or the subtle gradations of harmonic weight in the first movement of the Dohnanyi, or the artful shaping of the luxurious melodies in the third. In sum, another remarkable testament to both the durability and the imagination of the greatest American-born pianist since Gottschalk.
Fanfare Magazine, Oct. 2000
It's rare to hear piano quintets performed as works for piano and full-string orchestra. Earl Wild has added bass parts to both works and performs them here with the American String Orchestra. Earl Wild - a youthful 85 this year - remains a pianist always worth listening to, and it's a rare pleasure to hear Dohnanyi's expansively post-Brahmsian Op.1, an ardent young man's piece, in any form whatsoever.
International Record Review, Sep. 2000
In the 1930s, Earl Wild heard his teacher, Egon Petri perform the Brahms Piano Quintet with the NBC Symphony string section. The occasion instigated Wild's long-held desire to explore the piano quintet repertoire with a string orchestra. On this recording, Schumann and Dohnanyi's important second violin and viola lines emerge with newfound fullness and clarity. Earl Wild is in fabulous form. He tosses off Schumann's more taxing patterns with the youthful assurance that belies his 84 years. He pulls a rainbow of nifty bunnies from his bottomless rubato hat in the Dohnanyi. All in all, an unusual, lovely disc, and well recorded too.
Classics Today, Aug. 2000