Nelson Freire Interprets Liszt

Occasionally a CD comes along that is so extraordinary that I must applaud it publicly. The Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire, born in 1944, has had a distinguished performing career, but his is a name known primarily to connoisseurs as one of the great pianists of his generation.

His recordings of Chopin and Beethoven are particularly fine. He has appeared with many of the world’s great orchestras, and his appearances at the Salzburg Festival are eagerly awaited. His style is patrician, and he programs only the highest quality repertoire.

Unfortunately (and unjustifiably) Liszt’s music for the piano sometimes lends itself to “pounding” at the keyboard. But pianists of the highest caliber, for example Earl Wild and Alfred Brendel, performed Liszt’s music with taste and sensitivity. Add Freire’s name to that “list” of artists who have honored the memory of Liszt in his bicentennial year.

In his new release on Decca, Harmonies du Soir, Freire resists the temptation to emphasize Liszt’s showmanship and bombast. Instead, he plays Liszt’s music with delicacy and taste, featuring an extraordinarily beautiful, limpid tone. His technique is impeccable, but the emphasis is on spontaneity of expression joined with a poetic sensibility.

The six Consolations, S. 172 are a narrative in pianistic form. The Sonetto 104 del Petrarca is a personal favorite, but it has never been performed more poetically by anyone else. While his musicianship is everywhere on display, Freire’s skill and sensitivity in this recital perhaps are best synthesized in the title track, Harmonies du soir.

To top it off, the digital sound of this Decca release is clear, with great depth and a broad soundstage. It is an excellent recording in every respect. It is highly recommended as one of the finest releases of the Liszt bicentennial year. If your taste runs to the Romantic, and you admire superior pianism, look no further.

Franz Liszt: Harmonies du Soir
Nelson Freire, piano
Decca

More Recent Posts

  • FSU Symphony Orchestra revive Dohnanyi works

    This is a Florida State University project from start to finish, and that makes perfect sense. Ernö Dohnányi finished his career on the faculty of FSU, and conducted the FSU Symphony Orchestra (albeit a half century before they made this recording). The performing editions for the Symphony No.2 and the Two songs were prepared from […]

  • Sept 13 Gather ‘Round: Leftover Salmon (2002)

    Gather ‘Round each Saturday night from 8-9 for WTJU Folk‘s concert series; both archived and live. There will be shows from The Prism Coffeehouse and VA Folklife archives mixed in with some from our announcers’ own libraries. And you never know when a live concert might pop up! This week’s concert features Leftover Salmon at […]

  • Armonia Ensemble Excel with Strauss Sonatinas

    Wind music from one of the greatest orchestrators of all time played by the wind players of one of the greatest orchestras of all time. How could the results be anything less than satisfying? Towards the end of his life, Richard Strauss ceded his role as an innovator and began writing works that unabashedly embraced […]

  • Jazz / Blues Adds – 9/9/2014

    Jazz / Blues Adds – 9/9/2014 Jazz Adds: Arthur Barron, Dave Liebman, Abel Pabon – The Miami Jazz Project (Zoho): Barron (tenor, alto, flute), Liebman (soprano, tenor), and Pabon (keys) initiated this project as a mission to keep the spirit and creativity of fusion alive. They have, in fact, created a soundscape that honors the […]

  • 2014 Jazz Marathon Thank-You Gifts

    DONATE NOW, and pick one of these 2014 Jazz Marathon thank-you gifts: T-SHIRT: 2014 Jazz Marathon t-shirt See image above. Sizes available: M-XXL Pledge: $75 CD: Viper’s Drag Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein & The Hot 9 Pledge: $75 CD: Juice Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood Pledge: $75 CD: Last Dance Keith Jarrett Charlie Haden […]

  • Folk & Beyond looks back at the 2013 Colorado Floods

    On September 9, 2013, a slow-moving cold front stalled over Colorado, clashing with warm humid monsoonal air from the south.  This resulted in heavy rain and catastrophic flooding along Colorado’s Front Range from Colorado Springs north to Fort Collins. The situation intensified on September 11 and 12. Boulder County was the worst hit, with over […]