How I wish I had attended at least one performance by the late and truly great Earl Wild; my admiration for him knows no bounds.
He lived a long (1915 – 2010) and richly productive life, did Mr. Earl Wild — playing with undiminished vigor for nearly all of it, so my having managed to miss the excitement of a live performance must be attributed to very bad planning on my part. Still, he bequeathed such an extensive wealth of recordings that his take on just about everything — including up to very recent times — can be heard and relished.
Earl Wild: always up to date
The beauty of his playing — spare, without mannerisms, yet colorful and highly expressive; a grand sense of line without tempo distortions; thoughtful reflection of the composer’s intent — was gift enough, certainly, but Earl Wild also composed and transcribed works for the piano (this marvelous recital includes his arrangement of the Mexican Hat Dance).
Remarkably, but perhaps not surprisingly for such a keen spirit, Earl Wild was very much a man of his times; he could often be found participating in historical events and even making history himself (as, for example, when he played the first televised solo recital and, so many years later, achieved a similar accomplishment on the Internet). His repertoire certainly reflected this as well, commencing with the earliest of the master composers, spanning the entire literature and continuing to broaden as contemporaries came on the scene. This would not be worth what it is had he not been such a master of the piano and consummate musician. As a final treat, he left us his memoirs which, Amazon.com informs us, are presented together with a “CD containing never-before-released live performances and a personal interview”. While waiting to acquire that, here to delight us is this: