David Wilde plays Liszt – Mephisto Waltz, Liebesträume, Petrarch Sonnets, Funérailles [Delphian]

0 of 5 stars

Mephisto Waltz No.1
Années de pèlerinage: Deuxième Année, Italie – Tre Sonetti di Petrarca
Harmonies poétiques et religieuses – Funérailles

David Wilde (piano)

Recorded in November 2011 and December 2012 in Reid Concert Hall, University of Edinburgh

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: January 2014
Duration: 74 minutes



This is Liszt-playing in the grand manner, David Wilde conjuring a Mephisto Waltz of derring-do, devilry, bags of personality and a flexible view of the text, as insinuating as it is incendiary. Not for the first time, Wilde and Delphian give us something special, and the sound quality is also first-class, unflinchingly capturing all of the pianist’s wild (pun!) glissandos and crescendos. Of the three Liebesträume (Dreams of Love), each of the Nocturnes may be leisurely and lyrical, but Wilde gives them an electric charge of emotion, a lava-like outpouring of sentiment, the composer typically elaborating his basic poeticism of which Wilde is a master. The final piece of the set is famous, its familiar melody given with gentle fingers and a big heart.

As for the Three Petrarch Sonnets, taken from the Italian leg of Liszt’s Years of Pilgrimage collection, this is richly expressive music, romantic, fervent, full of feeling, and musing on profound subjects, of being alive with all its beauties and horrors, and conscious of the spectre of death. This may be slow-burn if elaborate music, but Wilde holds it in thrall embracing the listener with Liszt’s glowing writing. Finally music inspired by uprising and execution, October 1849 seeing the failure of the Kossuth-led Hungarian Revolution. Wilde gives a darkly pealing and epic version of Funérailles, mortified, intensifying in its entrenched sentiment before the catastrophic climax, at which point Wilde is unrelenting. Rarely has this piece seemed so desperate, so unrelieved; this is a marvellous and revelatory performance.

Now I suppose in his ‘Indian Summer’, he was born in 1935, the more I hear of David Wilde’s playing, the more I want to hear it. It will be a treat indeed if Delphian has further releases lined up for his 80th-birthday next year. He is a sage for all seasons.

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