Daniel Berman, Pianist - In Memoriam Earl Wild

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Donald Isler
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Daniel Berman, Pianist - In Memoriam Earl Wild

Post by Donald Isler » Sat May 08, 2010 2:25 pm

In Memoriam Earl Wild (1915-2010)
Daniel Berman, Pianist
New York Bechstein Piano Center
Friday, May 7th, 2010

Program

Bach Busoni: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
Gershwin/Wild: Five Virtuoso Etudes on Popular Songs
Rachmaninoff/Wild: Vocalise
Floods of Spring

Discussion About Earl Wild With Daniel Berman and Joe Patrych

Gershwin/Wild: Porgy and Bess Fantasy

Encores:
Rachmaninoff/Wild: Where Beauty Dwells
R. Strauss/Godowsky: Ständchen
Schumann/Liszt: Widmung

One is, yet again, reminded of the plethora of opportunities to hear great music in New York. In addition to concerts in the famous concert halls there are many recitals by up and coming young musicians at New York's three music conservatories. In addition to that there are also concerts at the showrooms of the major piano companies, one example of which was the splendid recital given by Daniel Berman last night at Bechstein's New York showroom in memory of the great American pianist Earl Wild.

Mr. Berman, who received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Robert Goldsand, and later studied with Bernhard Ebert at the Hannover Music Conservatory, has dedicated much of his life to playing romantic repertoire, including many little-known virtuoso works, and transcriptions. He knew Earl Wild, and gave the first New York performances of some of Wild's arrangements. He has the stylistic understanding and technique to play these big works and, like Mr. Wild, an unfailingly beautiful tone.

After opening with the Bach/Busoni work (which he described as a "musical prayer") he gave wonderful performances of the Gershwin/Wild songs, and really brought out the contrasts between the beautiful slow ones, like The Man I Love, and the fast ones, such as I Got Rhythm. The transcriptions of the Rachmaninoff songs, which followed the Gershwin songs, were also very well done.

The discussion between Mr. Berman and recording engineer/producer/radio personality Joe Patrych about Earl Wild was entertaining and informative. Mr. Patrych observed that Wild's career may have been hurt by his blunt, and freely expressed opinions, and noted, that though he was a major artist, Wild was never invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. He rented the hall every time he played there, including the recital he gave just after his 90th birthday. It was also revealed that, as a fervent Baldwin pianist, Wild once lambasted a radio announcer who commented, on a broadcast of a Bolet performance, that the Baldwin Bolet was playing sounded bad. It later turned out (probably to Wild's satisfaction!) that the piano in question was not a Baldwin!

The Porgy and Bess Fantasy is a 25 minute tour de force that would be enjoyed by anyone who has never been to a piano recital but loves Gershwin's music, because it contains just about every famous tune from the opera. Mr. Berman played the heck out of it!

Not yet exhausted from this demanding program Mr. Berman, who clearly loves to play the piano, gave his audience three encores. The Wild transcription of Rachmaninoff's song Where Beauty Dwells was particularly lovely, and Widmung, which concluded the program, served as a sort of benediction.

The Strauss/Godowsky Ständchen may have been played especially for the benefit of two distinguished members of the audience, Eleonore Kramer, widow of Mr. Berman's musicology professor at Manhattan School of Music, Fritz Kramer (it's one of her favorite pieces), and pianist and composer Leopold Godowsky III. Mr. Godowsky is the grandson of the great pianist, Leopold Godowsky, and is also the nephew of George Gershwin. This may have been one of the few programs on which music of his two famous, yet very different relatives, was featured!

It was a memorable evening. Daniel Berman is a pianist who should be heard more often.

Donald Isler
Donald Isler

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