Amen to your comment on breathing. It actually is especially useful in several situations: 1) The first, as you mention, to make the brain keener when figuring our or executing complexities in the music; and 2) when playing cantilena, breathing needs to emulate that of a singer, which helps in the phrasing; 3) when a piece seems too tight and confined, proper breathing allows the piece to open up a bit and "breathe" as well.
Yes, Earl Wild always played the Baldwin SD10 concert grand. The exceptions occurred if he played in a hall that only had a Steinway or was in a city with no Baldwin concert grand program, then again he'd go with Steinway. During his last year (he was in his 90s), he suddenly took an interest in the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand and seemed to be trying it out for awhile. Had he lived longer, I don't know what would have come of it. My guess is that he would have probably stayed with Baldwin. Other Baldwin Artists that come quickly to mind were Walter Gieseking, Ruth Laredo (oh, and we shouldn't forget Liberace!
). Ivan Davis and Ruth Slenczynska also play Baldwin. Years ago I recall being at the Tanglewood Music Festival where the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays its summer programs. Gary Graffman was to play a Rachmaninoff concerto. Just before he came on stage, the stage hands appeared, rolled the Steinway off into a wing, and brought in the Baldwin. Graffman had always played Steinway, so I was baffled then as I remain to this day, as to what that was all about. Yet for some reason that evening he wanted to play the Baldwin instead. I could probably write and ask him
, but he's probably long forgotten it.