The Romantic Master - Liszt (The 1985 Sessions)
Earl Wild is a premier Lisztian, one of the great Romantic pianists of our age, claims easily confirmed by this two-disc set of major Liszt piano works recorded in 1985 and issued here in splendid sound. The attributes of Wild's playing are all present on these discs--a big, burnished tone, the technique to make even the most difficult works sound easy, and mastery of both subtle rubato and grandiloquent rhetoric, both indispensable for satisfying Liszt playing. We hear these immediately in the Dante Sonata, where Wild's brazen colorings and wide dynamic range capture Liszt's depiction of the poet's Inferno. And we hear those pianistic virtues at the end of the recital as well, with a gently flowing, poetic Consolation No. 3. The Sonata has been recorded by most of the century's great pianists, but Wild's interpretation is compelling by virtue of its flowing narrative approach--you feel he's telling a dramatic story that seethes with passion and has long chapters of philosophic reflection. Perhaps it's that storytelling aspect of Wild's Liszt that makes it so individual and at the same time so true to the Lisztian spirit. Everything on these discs is played at the highest level. Miss it at your peril. (review by Dan Davis)
The Two Piano Concertos, etc
(Sviatoslav Richter; London Symphony Orchestra; Kiril Kondrashin, conductor)
Although Sviatoslav Richter's account has power and authority, it's best in the meditative moments, which are almost balletic in their grace. The Russian pianist achieves seamless transitions from one mood to the next, and his countryman on the podium sees to it that there is a wonderful dovetailing of the accompaniment around the solo. Richter is especially magical at the end of the Adagio, where he anticipates the shadings of Liszt's late style. This was originally a Mercury "Living Presence" recording; it has been tellingly remastered by its original producer, and sounds remarkably more vivid than when Philips first issued it on CD.