Peter Iyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893):
The Seasons, Op. 37bis
Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951):
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881):
Pictures at an Exhibition
Piano: Earl Wild
Producer: Michael Rolland Davis
Engineer: Ed Thompson
Remastered using 20-Bit State-of-the-Art Technology - HDCD Encoded
Earl Wild is the last living link to the grand tradition of piano playing. Called "The Romantic Master", Wild's interpretations of Russian piano masterpieces are second to none. Gramophone praised Wild's performance of Tchaikovsky's music: "Relatively few pianists, past, present or future, could play like this." Mussorgsky's monumental score is equally stunning. This extraordinary Russian recital by Wild also contains the rarely heard, virtuoso Improvisation, Opus 31, No.1 by Nikolai Medtner. For lovers of great Russian piano music -- this is the choice!
Brendel's 'Pictures' sounds especially insipid next to Earl Wild's performance. Whether in his delightfully up-tempo 'Bydlo' (radically less ponderous than any other I know) or his gorgeously shaded account of the second 'Promenade', the performance is studded with discerning interpretive touches; and while Wild consciously avoids bludgeoning the music, his quiet virtuosity (try the calm precision of 'Limoges' or the perfectly weighted tremolos on 'Con Mortuis') puts the performance in a class of its own. All in all, then, a 'Pictures' for connoisseurs. It's doubly welcome for its imaginative couplings - the Tchaikovsky 'Seasons' and Medtner's 'Improvisation No. 1'. It reminds us why Wild is the most accomplished Medtnerian of this era.
Fanfare Magazine, Aug. 1999
Earl Wild, 84 this year, understands the piano as well as anyone; his fingers are among the most nimble ever to touch a keyboard, and he has an attractive stage presence. He has played everything, everywhere, and with everybody, usually to great acclaim. The selections on this disc were recorded when Wild was in his 50's; the Tchaikovsky in 1976, Medtner in 1969, and Moussorgsky in 1966 - all in good if somewhat dry sound. His tempos in The Seasons are quite fast, turning them into glittering display pieces. The Medtner is played brilliantly and is very exciting.
American Record Guide, Aug. 1999
Earl Wild's 1966 recording of Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition', in its original solo-piano version, remains one of the best on record. Not only does Wild have the technique for this fiendish keyboard writing - I use present tense because he's still going strong (including his concerts and classes in Pittsburgh last month) but he has a palette of pianistic colors to rival any orchestra in the world. His 1976 recording of Tchaikovsky's 'The Seasons' is perhaps even more remarkable for the relative unfamiliarity of this music, which is occasionally heard in orchestral garb as accompaniment to a ballet.
Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, May. 1999
Here is another interesting disc from Ivory Classics. I'm amazed at this label's consistently high production values. This disc contains some very popular music brought to life in distinguished performances by the eminent Earl Wild. The remastering of these performances are, as you've come to expect from this label, of the highest quality. The performance of the Pictures is one of the finest I've encountered. What's most important in this reissue from 1966, is that Wild imparts rich color and vivid images to his playing. This surely isn't just another so-so run-through that slights the drama and bleaches the colors, as one often hears from pianists. His Tchaikovsky Seasons manages to fully capture the melancholy, the joy and the wistfulness of this classic. It's chock full of insights and bravura. The Medtner Improvisation shows off Wild's imposing technique to marvelous effect. This recital is another feather in this label's cap. The sound is good as well.
www.cosmik.com/classics, Apr. 1999