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Ivory Classics Music

The Virtuosity of Earl Wild - 2 CDs

The Virtuosity of Earl Wild - 2 CDs

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Ivory Classics CD-70901(2CDs)
The Virtuosity of Earl Wild
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Piano: Earl Wild

Producer: Michael Rolland Davis
Engineer: Ed Thompson

Piano: Steinway, Baldwin
Recorded: 11/63, 10/64, 1966, 4/67, 4/68, 6/69, 1976, 10/78, 12/85.

Mastered using 20-Bit State-of-the-Art Technology - HDCD Encoded

Scintillating - Exciting - Riveting - Powerful - Awesome - Stupendous performances of some of the most difficult piano showpieces ever written. Earl Wild bedazzles with his keyboard pyrotechnics, charms us with his musicianship, and always impresses us with his elan. The virtuosic Liszt, Dohnanyi, Tchaikovsky, Moszkowski, Chopin, Mendelssohn, and d'Albert compositions come alive in this 2 disc collection that every piano enthusiast will want to own!


Ivory Classics is now releasing a series of the veteran American piano virtuoso Earl Wild's recordings, upon which his reputation as a super-virtuoso rests. These superbly refurbished recordings date from the 1960s to 1980s and mostly capture Wild at his technical and interpretative best. Take the fiendish Liszt Mephisto Waltz No. 1 for example. Even in the light of Wild's three other recordings of this piece, and other famous ones from Kapell, Horowitz, and Cziffra, this version is a spine-tingling diabolic ride at a staggering basic tempo. Other highlights include Liszt's Grand Galop Chromatique (better balanced and controlled than Cziffra's), Gnomenreigen, and a stunning Dohnanyi pairing. Many other adventures await the listener - snap these discs up, a bargain at the price., Feb. 2003

One takes for granted (as in every single piece that Wild has ever recorded) the most infallible and fluent of mechanisms, the effortless leggiero, the finely-shaped phrasing, the easeful rubato, and his innate sense of the music's narrative. He plays with a light hand and a light heart, rare qualities among pianists today. Who else but Wild (and perhaps Cherkassky) could subtly draw your attention to a hidden line in a fleet-fingered 'Gnomenreigen'. If 'Etincelles' remains Horowitz's property, Wild makes a serious challenge and finds more poetry in this elegant trifle. The coda of Dohnanyi's B minor 'Capriccio' has him throwing down the gauntlet to challenge the coda of interlocked octaves in Horowitz's Chopin B minor Scherzo. Wild plays with controlled abandon. Throughout the 138 minutes of these discs, I listened with a smile on my face at the sound of a pianist rejoicing in his own svelte athleticism. This disc, as with all issues from Ivory Classics, is handsomely presented, with excellent notes.

International Piano, Aug. 1999

This two-disc collection of mostly middle-period recordings gathers up some of Earl Wild's most brilliant acrobatics. And as much as any other CDs currently available, it demonstrates why Wild's way with this repertoire is so distinctive. It's a matter of attitude: few other pianists can claim such precision of touch, such astringent clarity, such a wide range of color, or such an ability best revealed in Moszkowski's Etincelles ? to bring out a wealth of musical detail without obscuring the music's outlines. Wild supplies an effervescence that makes such intent virtuosos as Barere seem witless by comparison. Recorded between 1963 and 1985 and because of the quality of the original tapes, coupled with Ed Thompson's typically first-rate HDCD remastering, they sound fresher and more consistent than you might expect. All in all, a splendid celebration of Wild at his most dazzling.

Fanfare Magazine, Jun. 1999

In this release, Wild is having a lot of fun, and so will the listener. It is not merely the free-wheeling virtuosity, which Wild is a master of on the Horowitz order, but - more important - the taste and joy with which he makes the piano do all kinds of tricks. Wild knows how to make virtuosity sound musical rather than just stunt-like, thanks to his legato, his beautiful sound, and his obvious love for this kind of music. So we have taste and proportion rather than banging, bombast, and show-off. Romanticism still lives.

Harold C. Schonberg, American Record Guide, Jun. 1999

From a label devoted to artful pianism comes a 2 disc blockbuster of phenomenal (and tasteful) showmanship. Earl Wild has championed the obscure throughout his long career, but he is careful to choose only the best and most characteristic pieces. Time and again, he is able to project even the slightest melody through a welter of decorative notes. In pieces of pure technique - Moszkowski's flaming 'Etincelles' - for example - Wild demonstrates a frightening control of the digital demands. Vladimir Horowitz was said to have been an admirer of Wild's playing. Perhaps the biggest coup here is the licensing of Wild's 1960s recordings for Reader's Digest. These nuggets represent the acme of his art, and their inclusion makes this collection indispensable for fans of the grand romantic manner.

Muse Inc., May. 1999

Still cracking the ivories at 83, Earl Wild is hyped as the reincarnation of demon virtuosos like Liszt and Thalberg. To the extent that such a description implies fabulous fingerwork at the expense of musical intelligence, any such characterization as applied to Wild is unfairly limiting. Yes, most of the 28 'cuts' on this set, taken from recordings made between 1963 and 1985, are pieces that ordinary pianists could not play with a fraction of the speed and precision with which Wild plays them (e.g., three of the Liszt 'Paganini Etudes'), but there's more to it than that. Wild's palpable and genuine love for 'show-off' music animates his artistry, and if that provides an opportunity to show off his fabulous fingers, well, why not? We listeners are the gainers. Recommended.

Classical CD Scout, Mar. 1999

Earl Wild will go down as one of the greatest American virtuosos of the 20th century. He is known to be unpretentious and rather the opposite of the prima donna artist his status might foster. The maverick Wild has remained at the pinnacle of his career for about the last two decades. These 2 CDs document his stunning artistry, spanning the years 1963-1985. Wild performs with power and panache, always zeroing in on that demonic side with relish and vivid colors. The transcription works on the disc elevate the music well above the mere transcription level. This Wild 2-disc set is a clear winner., Jan. 1999
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