WORKS: Grand Fantasy on Porgy and Bess; Seven Virtuoso Études; Improvisation on Someone to Watch Over Me; Piano Sonata
PERFORMER: Xiayin Wang (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10626
For most of Earl Wild’s career it was easy to overlook his piano transcriptions and arrangements as pieces created for his own use, but in recent years they have begun to become mainstays of the repertory of young virtuoso pianists, both in recital and on recordings. The Gershwin arrangements heard here include the etudes on individual songs and the sprawling Grand Fantasy on ‘Porgy and Bess’ (all from 1976) as well as the later four-movement Improvisation on ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ (1990), in which the pawky final tango morphs into Bach quotations.
Xiayin Wang plays this music cleanly and with technical aplomb, although metrical and technical regularity prevent her from inhabiting the vocally-inflected spirit Wild himself brought to these pieces. Still, Wang builds infectious momentum in ‘I can’t sit down’ (from Porgy) and seems well suited to rendering the Piano Sonata’s concluding ‘Toccata (à la Ricky Martin)’ effectively. David Breckbill