MARCELLO-WILD: Adagio. MOZART: Sonata in F, K. 332. BEETHOVEN: 32 Variations in C Minor. BALAKIREV: Sonata No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 5. CHOPIN: Impromptu No. 1 in A flat, Op. 29. Impromptu No. 2 in F sharp, Op. 36. Impromptu No. 3 in G flat, Op. 51. Fantasie-Impromptu No. 4 in C# minor, Op. 66. "Mexican Hat Dance" arr. Wild.
Earl Wild, pianist
IVORY CLASSICS 73005 (F) (DDD) TT: 78:14

LISZT: Concert Etude No. 2 in F minor "La Leggierezza." Concert Etude No. 3 in D flat "Un sospiro." Funérailles. Transcendental Etudes No. 3 "Paysage," and No. 9 "Ricordanza." Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4 in E flat. Sonetto del Petrarca No. 47. Sonetto del Petrarca No. 123. Mephisto Polka. Paganini Etudes Nos. 2 in E flat, No. 5 in E and No. 3 in G sharp minor "La Campanella."
Earl Wild, pianist
IVORY CLASSICS 73002 (F) (ADD) TT: 72:13

CHOPIN: Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 23 "Funeral March." Berceuse in D flat, Op. 57. Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52. Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49. Three Mazurkas.
Ivan Moravec, pianist
VOX 7908 (M) (DDD) TT: 64:00

CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO: Cipressi, Op. 17. Il raggio verde, Op. 9. Alghe, Op. 12. I naviganti, Op. 13. Lucertolina. La Sirenetta e il pesce turchino, Op. 18. Passatempi, Op. 54 (Five Little Waltzes).Vitalba e Biancospoino, Op. 21. Questo fu il carro della Morte, Op. 2. Epigrafe, Op. 25. Cantico, Op. 19.
Jordi Masó, pianist
NAXOS 8.555856 (B) (DDD) TT: 66:52

Earl Wild continues to amaze the music world with his artistry—and longevity. He continues to concertize and give master classes. This latest CD appropriately is called "At 88 on the 88's," recorded in May 2003. Wild's virtuosity has not been diminished by the years, and he is in splendid form. The program begins and closes with new Wild transcriptions: Marcello's lovely Adagio, and the familiar Jarabe Tapitio, or "Mexican Hat Dance." In between we have the Beethoven variations, Mozart's charming Sonata, K. 332, the 25-minute sonata of Balakirev, and all four Chopin impromptus. Wild claims he doesn't perform much Mozart, but he is a fine interpreter of his music; his recording of the Concerto No. 21 is one of the best—and most imaginative (see REVIEW). The CD booklet notes by Christopher Weiss contain a recent lengthy interview in which Wild discusses the program and plans for the future. Balakirev's sonata really isn't very much in spite of Wild's virtuoso performance; the Chopin are tossed off with the greatest of ease at brisk tempi. The instrument used was a brand-new Shigeru Kawai EX Concert Grand (#2425001) made in Japan of the finest quality materials including the rare Ezo spruce from Hokkaido in north Japan, aged for fifteen years before it is considered to be made into a Sigeru soundboard. Whatever the process, the piano produces a glorious sound vividly recorded in 24 bit at 88.2 kHz.. The booklet also contains a complete Earl Wild discography on Ivory Classics. Keep in mind that Wild is also featured prominently on the Chesky label which has released many of his magnificent recordings for the Readers' Digest including concertos of Chopin, MacDowell, Rachmaninoff, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, Liszt and Tchaikovsky as well as Wild's own cleverly imaginative Doo-dah Variations. Solo music of Gershwin, Chopin and Rachmaninoff also is to be found on Chesky.

The Liszt Ivory Classics collection contains concert performances from October 7, 1979 (Chicago), June 10, 1973 (London), and March 21, 1983 (Tokyo), welcome additions to Wild's recorded music of the composer supplementing his previously released Ivory Classics twin-CD set of Liszt sessions from December 1985 recorded in New York. This features the Sonata in B minor, Dante sonata, Ballade No. 2 and Liszt's transcription of Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G minor.

Czech pianist Ivan Moravec, who has also been on the concert scene for many years, although not yet an octogenarian, has a new release. Moravec, who is only 74, has a splendid Chopin collection featuring his first recording of the Sonata No. 2 along with the Fantaisie, Ballade No. 4 and several shorter works. These recordings were made in November 2002 in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. As one expects from this artist, these are exemplary performances, very well recorded.

Compared with the above, Naxos' issue of piano music of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) is of limited interest in spite of Jordi Masó's fine performances. The Italian composer, whose ancestors were from Castilla Nueva, was influenced by Ildebrando Pizzetti and Alfredo Casella. He moved to the United States in 1938 where in Hollywood he wrote music for many films as well as many large-scale works including operas, oratorios, cantatas and music for guitar and piano. Jascha Heifetz recorded his Violin Concerto No. 2, and his Quintet for Guitar and Strings, Op. 143 was also issued by RCA Victor. Much of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's music for guitar has been recorded. This CD contains many of his early piano works ending with Il Cantico composed in 1920 which won a prize as best piano composition of the year. Cantico is pleasant enough but, like other music on this CD, quite innocuous. I find only the faintest suggestions of Debussy and Ravel mentioned in the CD notes. At budget price this CD might attract curious collectors.

R.E.B. (January 2004)