Virtuoso Piano Transcriptions

Author: 
Bryce Morrison

Virtuoso Piano Transcriptions

  • (Le) Rouet d'Omphale
  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2
  • (12) Songs, No. 5, These summer nights (wds. Rathaus)
  • Paraphrase on 'Sleeping Beauty' (Tchaikovsky)
  • Improvisation on 'Après un rêve' (Fauré)
  • Hommage à Poulenc
  • Don Giovanni, Deh! vieni alla finestra
  • Reminiscences of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'
  • (6) Songs, No. 3, At the ball (wds. Tolstoy)
  • Swan Lake, Danses des cygnes, IV Danses des (petites) cynges (Allegro moderato)
  • (5) Nouvelles soirées de Vienne, Man lebt nur einmal, Op. 167
  • Liebesleid

On this record Earl Wild celebrates his eightieth birthday in inimitable style. Letting down his snow white hair he thunders and scintillates his way through a tantalizing assortment of arrangements (mostly his own), lavishly tinting every style and puckishly winking at this or that solemnity. A pianist with a sweet tooth blessed with an autocratic and crystalline technique, he resurrects some of his old favourites (Rachmaninov's These summer nights and the Kreisler/Rachmaninov Liebeslied, for example) but for the most part provides new and delectable offerings. Take the Wild Hommage a Poulenc for example, where the Sarabande from Bach's First Partita is held in a relentlessly 'blue' spotlight, enveloped in luscious night-club harmony; a naughty but affectionate tilt at 'the old wig' and also at all purists and Beckmessers. His arrangement of Saint-Saens's Le rouet d'Omphale, deriving in style from the Wagner-Liszt Spinning Chorus from Der fliegende Hollander is dazzlingly resourceful and Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith takes on a new lease of life, decked out with mischievous but stylish additions.
Wild's elaboration of the Larghetto from Chopin's Second Piano Concerto is a far cry (particularly in the central storm) from that composer's early elegance and transparency yet, even super-enriched, it is both personal and intriguing. The decadent commentary on the Rachmaninov song ends with comic abruptness while Tchaikovsky's At the ball concludes with a flight nimble enough to show how lightly Wild has worn his years. Lovers of easy sentiment will enjoy the effusive Reminiscences of ''Snow White'' though admirers of Faure's chaste voluptuousness will react to Wild's way with Apres un reve with more than a raised eyebrow. The Dance of the Swans from Swan Lake is as ear-tickling as ever and so, all in all, the instantly recognizable sheen and sparkle of this recital reflect a great pianist's tireless relish and delight in all things pianistic and seductive. The recordings are superb.'

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