From a label devoted to artful pianism comes a two-disc blockbuster of phenomenal (and tasteful) showmanship. The repertoire ranges from staples such as Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" (its cimbalom effects familiar from so many deployments in cartoon music and video games) and Chopin's A-flat "Heroic" Polonaise, to obscure bonbons from yesteryear: Eugen d'Albert's "Scherzo" raises the curtain on disc 2 with a whirlwind of notes; a Dohnanyi "Capriccioso" rings it down in a hyper-romantic fling that Dohnanyi dedicated to his first wife.
Wild has championed the obscure throughout his long career, but he is careful to choose only the best and most characteristic pieces. Time and again, he is able to project even the slightest melody through a welter of decorative notes. In pieces of pure technique--Moszkowski's flaming "Etincelles," for example--Wild demonstrates a frightening control of the digital demands. Vladimir Horowitz was said to have been an admirer of Wild's playing.
Perhaps the biggest coup here is the licensing of Wild's 1960's recordings for Reader's Digest. These nuggets represent the acme of his art, and their inclusion makes this collection indispensable for fans of the grand romantic manner.