Earl Wild    (Rachmaninoff)          (dell'Arte 7001)
Item# P1141
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Product Description

Earl Wild    (Rachmaninoff)          (dell'Arte 7001)
P1141. EARL WILD: Rachmaninoff Song Transcriptions. (England) dell’Arte 7001, recorded 1982, New York. Long out-of-print; final copy!

Floods of Spring, Op. 14 No. 11 Midsummer Eve, Op. 14 No. 5 The Little Island, Op. 14 No. 2 Where Beauty Dwells, Op. 21 No. 8 In the Silent Night, Op. 4 No. 3 Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14 On the Death of a Linnet, Op. 21 No. 8 The Muse, Op. 34 No. 1 O, Cease they Singing, Op. 4 No. 4 To the Children, Op. 26 No. 7 Dreams, Op. 38 No. 5 Sorrow in Springtime, Op. 21 No. 12


“Earl Wild has been a devotee and acolyte of Serge Rachmaninov for over seventy years, beginning at age six. During his student days, Wild had the opportunity to accompany a singer in a couple of songs; then, Wild fell under the spell of Maria Kurenko, who had performed much of the song oeuvre with the composer at the piano. Having listened to Rachmaninov’s piano style for over two decades and having absorbed its technique and syntax, Wild decided to transcribe twelve of the songs, much in the manner of Liszt, in the summer of 1981. Gorgeous music, gorgeous playing, and a high class production all the way.”

- Gary Lemco, Audio Auditions

“To those who know and love this repertoire, this might just be as close to keyboard heaven as you can get. Rachmaninoff's songs for voice and piano - some seven sets, comprising eighty-five songs in all - were so intimate to the composer's intertwined life and art, that he ceased composing songs during the painful years of his exile from Russia. ‘I was only six when I first heard Rachmaninoff perform’, recalls Wild, ‘and I attended his concerts regularly for the next twenty-two years until his death in 1943’. Need we say the Russian master's emotion and the clarity and simplicity of his approach to the piano were a model the young American pianist strived to emulate? Rachmaninoff himself left but two transcriptions of his own songs, ‘Lilacs’ and ‘Daisies’. Wild transcribed thirteen others, which became a vital part of his recitals in the 1980's.

In a song like ‘The Little Island’,’ which metaphorically pictures the secure innocence of childhood, the song setting and its transcription can be simple and restrained, as befits the subject. In a song like ‘Sorrow in Springtime’, on the other hand, the emotions are more complex, and the music is correspondingly more powerful and disquieting.

The present program, remastered in 24-bit sound, is as beautiful as anything we have heard from this great artist, and may well serve as a handsome tribute to him.”

- Classik Reviews, Jun. 2004

“Rachmaninov's songs for voice and piano count among his most heartfelt and beautiful compositions. Since his better-known piano preludes ooze melody from their every pore, why not adapt the songs for solo piano and you'll have what amounts to an additional set of Rachmaninov preludes? That's precisely what Earl Wild did with 13 of these gems. He doesn't merely weld the vocal lines onto the original piano accompaniments; instead, he fleshes out the textures in a style very much in keeping with the lush polyphony and galvanic rhythm typical of Rachmaninov's solo keyboard writing. And nobody plays Earl Wild transcriptions better than Earl Wild. From the bristling cascades in ‘The Little Island’ to the wistful long lines and pent-up agitation of the familiar ‘Vocalise’, Wild's unerring sense of style and utterly natural, singing technique hold your attention. Definitely one of Earl's Pearls.”

- Classics Today, May, 2004

"Wild plays everything with consummate artistry. He has a technique that matches Horowitz’s. But he also has a poetic sensitivity that refutes once-and-for-all the charge of superficial virtuosity.”

- John Beversluis, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 1999

“Liszt was often called a ‘piano-centaur’, so at one was he with the instrument. Earl Wild could be described in similar terms. The gift of absolute pitch revealed itself at age three as his avidity for the keyboard took prodigious strides. At six he read music fluently, and before he was 12 he was studying piano with Selmar Janson, a pupil of d'Albert and Scharwenka (both students of Liszt). Busoni's ‘disciple’, Egon Petri; Paul Doguereau, a student of Paderewski and Ravel; and Elena Barère, wife of the phenomenal Russian pianist Simon Barère, provided later tuition. With his superb mécanique and enormous hands, Wild was predestined to take his place among the great pianists, while his training and place in time spread before him the riches, traditions, and secrets of Romantic pianism. In his early teens, Wild was already composing, arranging, and transcribing music for radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh while playing piano and celesta in the Pittsburgh Symphony under Otto Klemperer. NBC hired him as a staff pianist in 1937, a stint that included playing under Toscanini in the NBC Symphony and with whom Wild gave a legendary broadcast performance of Gershwin's RHAPSODY IN BLUE in 1942, thereby coming to national notice as a major artist. During World War II, Wild served in the U.S. Navy playing fourth flute in the Navy Band, performing recitals at the White House, and frequently accompanying Eleanor Roosevelt to play ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ on her speaking tours. From 1945 to 1968, Wild was employed by ABC as staff pianist, conductor, and composer. But it was as an interpreter of Romantic literature, especially Liszt - and such neglected figures as Thalberg, Herz, Scharwenka, Balakirev, Paderewski, Godowsky, and Medtner - that Wild was most notable. And, like them, he cultivated the art of piano transcription, re-creating the songs of Rachmaninov and Gershwin in his own omnicompetent style. Since his first recording in 1939, Wild compiled an imposing legacy of recorded performances combining scholarly savoir faire with the flair and visceral impact of the born showman. He was internationally in demand as a teacher.”

- Adrian Corleonis, allmusic.com