Earl Wild;  Paul Whiteman   (Gershwin)  (Ivory Classics 70702)
Item# P1146
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Product Description

Earl Wild;  Paul Whiteman   (Gershwin)  (Ivory Classics 70702)
P1146. EARL WILD: George Gershwin Recital, incl. Seven Virtuoso Etudes; Grand Fantasy on PORGY AND BESS (both recorded 1976); Three Preludes, (recorded 1964); w.Paul Whiteman Cond. Members of the American Broadcasting Orchestra, plus 16-voice choir: RHAPSODY IN BLUE, (recorded 1945). Ivory Classics 70702, recorded 1945-64, New York. - 264405707029


“Most intriguing 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.”

- classicalcdreview.com, Sept., 1999

“Earl Wild's first performance of RHAPSODY IN BLUE was a live 1942 broadcast with Toscanini, which effectively typecast the young pianist as a Gershwin specialist. Three years later Wild was invited by Paul Whiteman (who premiered and first recorded the work with the composer at the keyboard) to participate in the work's first uncut recording, reissued for the first time here on CD. True, Glenn Osser's re-orchestration with an added 16-voice choir borders on kitsch; and Whiteman's conducting, though snappily paced, has the subtlety of an avalanche. Wild's breezy fingerwork and stylish flair, however, saves the day. The pianist serves up his own SEVEN VIRTUOSO ETUDES on Gershwin songs and his Grande Fantasy on PORGY AND BESS with slightly more dash and abandon in these 1976 recordings than his later Chesky remakes, and he delivers the THREE PRELUDES with uncluttered directness. A delicious reissue.”

- Jed Distler

“Pianist Earl Wild died on 23 January, 2010 at the age of 94. Since then he has been widely lamented as the last of the Romantic virtuosi. He devoted his entire life to his art music was his love from the age of four. He received extraordinary accolades over the years, being called a super virtuoso and one of the 20th century s greatest pianists. Earl Wild was an artist with the rare gift of being able to communicate serious ideas in an easy and elegant way that never took away from his own intellectualism. His ability to bring the tradition of the art of the transcription to a mid-20th and 21st century audience in a way that was uniquely his own garnered him the reputation as the finest transcriber of our time. He was an important and well-respected musician as well as a special individual who held true to his own integrity throughout his life. Mr. Wild also made many extraordinary contributions to the American musical scene. Whether it was in a concert or at a master class, Earl Wild held both his audiences and students spellbound with his abilities, his knowledge, his imagination, his musical intelligence, sensitivity and artistry, along with his tremendous sense of humor.“

- Ralph Lockwood, 18 Dec., 2011

“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