"The Virtuosity of Earl Wild"
LISZT: Grand Galop Chromatique. Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 2, 4 and 12. Polonaise No. 2 in E. Mephisto Waltz. Transcendental Etudes Nos. 2, 7 and 10. Gnomenreigen. Waldesrauschen. Valse Oubliée No. 1. Concert Etude in F Minor. PAGANINI/LISZT: Etudes 2, 3 and 5. WAGNER/LISZT: Spinning Song. VERDI/LISZT: Rigoletto Paraphrase. SCHUBERT/TAUSIG: Marche Militaire. TCHAIKOVSKY: Scherzo à la Russe. TCHAIKOVSKY/WILD: Pas de Quatre from Swan Lake. Scherzo à la Russe, Op. 1 No. 1. DOHNÁNYI: Capriccio in F Minor, Capriccio in B Minor. d'ALBERT: Scherzo, Op. 16 No. 2. SCHUMANN/LISZT: Spring Night. CHOPIN: Polonaise in A Flat, Op. 53. MOSZKOWSKI: Étincelles, Op. 36 No. 6.MENDELSSOHN: Spinning Song.
Earl Wild, pianist
Ivory Classics 70901 (2 CDs) (M) (ADD) TT: 72:53

"Earl Wild Plays Spanish and French Gems"
FALLA: Miller's Dance. Ritual Fire Dance. ALBÉNIZ: Malagueña. Castilla. Triana. DEBUSSY: Reflections on the Water. Hills of Anacapri. Clair de Lune. Goldfish. GRANADOS: Andaluza. The Maiden and the Nightingale. MOSZKOWSKI: Caprice espagnole. MOMPOU: Song and Dance. RAVEL: Jeux d'eau. Alborada del gracioso.
Earl Wild, pianist
Ivory Classics 70805 (M) (ADD) TT: 67:15

GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue. Seven Virtuoso Etudes. Grand Fantasy on Porgy and Bess. Three Preludes.
Earl Wild, pianist; Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra/16 voice chorus
Ivory Classics 70702 (M) (ADD) TT: 66:55

CD representation of octogenarian pianist Earl Wild is enhanced by a number of recent issues on the new label, Ivory Classics, all recorded for other labels, primarily RCA Victor and Reader's Digest. The Virtuosity of Earl Wild focuses on music of Franz Liszt (including some of his transcriptions of other composer's works),but also features display works of Dohnányi, Moszkowski, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Schumann and Mendelssohn. Of particular interest is Wild's dazzling performance of d'Albert's Scherzo, Op. 16 No. 2, originally included on RCA's LP of Scharwenka's Piano Concerto No. 1. Earl Wild Plays Spanish and French Gems contains the expected chestnuts, all recorded from 1964-68 for the RD. Throughout the quality of playing is supreme, a virtuoso in his prime, with musical values as important as bravura. The sound on both of these of these new Ivory Classics releases is vivid and natural.

Most intriguing of the three CDs is the all-Gershwin disc featuring Wild's 1945 Victor recording of Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. Wild has closer identification with this music than any other pianist; he first performed it with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony in 1942, heard Gershwin play it many times, and has been soloist in countless concert performances. Whiteman, who had commissioned Rhapsody, wished to record it and requested the addition of a wordless 16-voice chorus, an idea enthusiastically endorsed by Gershwin. Glen Osser made this arrangement using voices as instruments heard often throughout the Rhapsody. It works and really creates an atmosphere of the '40s; it is surprising that this version hasn't been recorded since. Wild plays with enormous energy; there is vigor in this performance not heard in other more recent recordings. Even Wild's superb 1959 recording with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston "Pops" (RCA Living Stereo 68792) cannot match the spirit of the 1945 version. Ivory Classics' transfer from the 78s (now more than a half-centry old!!) has been miraculously well accomplished. The CD also contains other Gershwin performances by Wild, his "virtuoso etude" treatment of seven songs, and Grande Fantasy on Porgy and Bess, all recorded in 1976, music he later recorded for Chesky. This is an essential CD for Gershwin buffs.

It is fortunate for collectors that a majority of Wild's recordings are now on CD, with more to come. His '60s recordings for the Reader's Digest of concerted works of Chopin, Faure, Franck, Grieg, MacDowell, Liszt, Saint-Saens and Tchaikovsky have all been reissued on Chesky, as well as the superlative Rachmaninoff set with Jascha Horenstein and the Royal Philharmonic (also available on Chandos). An example of Wild the composer is on Chesky, his highly entertaining Variations on an American Theme for Piano and Orchestra, the " Doo-Dah Variations," a clever set of 19 variations on the popular tune. Chesky's catalog also contains solo discs of Beethoven (CD 120), Chopin (CD 44, 77), Medtner (CD AD1), Rachmaninoff (CD 58, 114) and Gershwin (CD 32). Vanguard retains in its catalog recordings of Brahms,(OVC 4034), Liszt (OVC 4035), a disc of showpieces (OVC 4033), and a CD of great importance -- the only recording of the unjustly-neglected Piano Concerto of Gian Carlo Menotti, a major item in the American piano concerto repertory, brilliantly played, coupled with Copland's Piano Concerto with the composer conducting (SVC 3). One should not overlook Wild's 1969 recording of Scharwenka's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony, now issued on Élan coupled with Paderewsi's Piano Concerto with Fiedler and the London Symphony (Élan 82266). For an example of Wild's live performances, try his Carnegie Hall concert of November 1981, called The Art of the Transcription (Audiophon CD 72008). And do not overlook Wild's CD called The Romantic Master, originally issued on Sony SK 62036), deleted and now reissued on Ivory Classics (70907).

R.E.B. (Sept. 1999)