[Dixielandjazz] Playing Carnegie Hall at 90 years old
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 1 07:08:30 PST 2005
NOT OKOM, but parallels exist. e.g. Pianist Earl Wild is an older fart than
most of us, but he still performs, relatively credibly. And, you may
remember him from a half century ago when he did music for television shows
and was taken to task for it by his "classical literati" peers.
He has slowed down, but then, people still come to hear him. And why not? He
represents something extra-ordinary.
PS. "Music should always be an adventure" - Coleman Hawkins
A Veteran Pianist Sticks With the Things He Knows Best
BERNARD HOLLAND - December 1, 2005 - NY Times
Some concerts put music first, with performers as vessels for the thoughts
of others. Other concerts use music as an excuse to put interesting
personalities onstage. Concerts can measure some extraordinary physical or
intellectual accomplishment. A few concerts qualify as historic events.
Earl Wild's recital at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night was a bit of all of
the above. Mr. Wild has just turned 90. He is still playing the piano and
drawing audiences. And though his life span may have lacked the dramatic
extramusical leaps that marked the career of Van Cliburn, it is hard to
think of another American pianist who has been so successful for so long.
So any critical review of Tuesday's events must necessarily come in layers.
There is the geriatric miracle layer: can he still play the notes? Then
comes Mr. Wild's long history of big pieces played in the grand manner, and
his longstanding delight in astonishing audiences with feats of virtuosity
and stamina: have the years sobered his tastes or left his big-bang
personality unaltered? And how is he doing in general? What is it like to be
90 and still have a job?
Mr. Wild stuck with what he knows well on Tuesday. There were few surprises
on the program: familiar Chopin, including two ballades; two transcriptions
(a chaste little piece by Alessandro Marcello and an extravagantly ornate
version of the "Mexican Hat Dance"); Liszt's great "Jeux d'Eau à la Villa
d'Este"; and - the closest thing to an anomaly - Beethoven's busy, bustling
D major Sonata from Opus 10.
Although subject to minor derailments, Mr. Wild's technique works remarkably
well. He loves the Liszt for the right reasons and gives it an almost
sensual glow. He can still play the ballades, which are not easy, and aging
seems to have processed the drama of Chopin's B flat minor Scherzo into
something almost gentle. The occasional messiness in the first movement of
the Beethoven was caused less by the performer's deficiency than ruinously
escalating tempos that would have done in a virtuoso a third his age.
I think I hear in Mr. Wild's later years a more sober and thoughtful, and
thus a more interesting, musician than the one I remember from his
slam-bang, shoot-'em-up prime. Both the simple Marcello piece and
Beethoven's deeply rhetorical Largo movement were touchingly done. Maybe
this kind of musicianship was always there but, with all the razzle-dazzle
in the way, never got to our ears. Maybe it never got to Mr. Wild's ears
either. I suspect that being a little less of a pianist these days has made
him a better musician.
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