Beethoven
Piano Sonata in C, Op.53 (Waldstein)
Piano Sonata in D minor, Op.31/2 (The Tempest)
Piano Sonata in A flat, Op.110
David Wilde (piano)

Recorded September & November 2009 and March 2010 in Reid Concert Hall, University of Edinburgh
CD No: DELPHIAN DCD34090
Duration: 72 minutes
Reviewed: March 2011
A Beethoven recital with a flavour all its own. We owe a debt to Delphian for keeping us in contact with a pianist such as David Wilde, whose experience and twinkle-in-the-eye enthusiasm are much in evidence throughout this recording. Born in Manchester in 1935, Wilde remains of youthful vigour and rough-hewn truculence. Something of a musical raconteur, Wilde can be as philosophical as anyone – thus the first movement of the ‘Waldstein’ Sonata mixes poise and energetic banter through Wilde’s supple, quick-witted and accurate fingers, Beethovenian fire and thoughtfulness welded as one; by contrast, the brief slow movement of Opus 110 is profound in its timeless searching, single notes hanging in the air with significance and expanding as crescendos of meaning, all leading to a bright-eyed final Fugue that is of Bachian monumentality pointing to an uplifting sunrise coda via transfixing repeated chords.
Wilde exploits to the full the contrasts of the ‘Tempest’ Sonata, its mystery, its progression (unforced from a pianist who has no need to celebrate himself) and delighting in a wide variety of dynamics, some to dramatic effect. The duality of simple yet enigmatic musical expression continues with the slow movement and is rounded-off with the lilt of the ‘spinning wheel’ finale, Wilde finding an ideal tempo to shape and energise this engaging creation. Elsewhere in Opus 110, one is aware of Wilde not needing to make any points; his depth of feeling is at one with Beethoven’s own and, although made under studio conditions, one senses that these are ‘real’ performances, extended takes that allow the music its organic long-term growth, given with a wisdom of extemporisation and underbelly logic. The compressed scherzo is active without being pushed or punchy, if just a little madcap when what passes for the ‘trio’ is reached. In the remaining movements of the ‘Waldstein’, Wilde uncovers the intense songfulness of the middle movement and the grandeur of the finale, lofty in expression with rambunctious and optimistic elements – how lucid and vibrant Wilde’s playing is, and also with hands-well-balanced – and with something kept in reserve for a coruscating coda.
The sound is not the richest, but the piano's immediacy and rugged power is gratifying as well as being echt for this composer, the instrument's wiry undiluted timbres appropriate to David Wilde’s unvarnished and penetrating performances.
Also well-worth seeking out is Wilde’s Brahms collection for Delphian [DCD34040, 81 minutes, recorded September 2008] that includes pugnacious accounts of the two Opus 79 Rhapsodies and a magisterial and vivid one of the Handel Variations (Opus 24), music of infinite possibilities, to which Wilde brings individual perceptions while remaining faithful to the composer.

 

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