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

  • Classical Marathon 2014: Thank-you gifts

    DONATE NOW, and pick one of these 2014 Classical Marathon thank-you gifts: T-SHIRT: Long-sleeved WTJU T-shirt See image above. Sizes available: S-XXL Pledge: $100 CD: Dukas: Symphony in C; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; La peri RTE National Symphony Orchestra; Jean-Luc Tingaud, conductor Pledge: $75 CD: Sing Thee Nowell New York Polyphony Pledge: $75 CD: Vivaldi: Concerti […]

  • Stephen Douglas Burton – Symphony No. 2 “Ariel”

    The “Ariel” subtitle of this symphony doesn’t refer to the lovable Disney mermaid. Rather, it’s the favorite horse of Sylvia Plath, which inspired one of her poems, and the title of the poetry collection Burton selected his texts from. Burton matches the often disturbing beauty of Plath’s poetry with richly scored post-romantic music. He also […]

  • WTJU’s Classical Marathon starts Dec. 1

    Get ready for seven days of wonderful classical music from December 1st – 7th. If you’re an avid listener or new to classical, WTJU’s Classical Marathon is your time to experience the breadth, depth, and beauty of classical music. Donate now! Marathon program schedule Premiums / Thank-You Gifts Directions & Parking info Fund Drive Office […]

  • Sing Thee Nowell — Yearround Pleasure

    New York Polyphony’s release “Sing Thee Nowell” is a little unusual. Despite its name, this is a release I’ll be enjoying throughout the year. The ensemble’s carefully chosen program includes many songs of the season, but few that have been done to death. Even the more familiar carols are heard in new and innovative arrangements. […]

  • Nov 22 Gather ‘Round: Tim & Mollie O’Brien/Kruger Brothers

    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!   In honor of Thanksgiving, tonight’s two concerts […]

  • New Blues Adds – 11/18/2014

    New Blues News – 11/18/2014 Blues Adds: Magnus Berg – Cut Me Loose (Self-produced): Initial release by 18 year old Norwegian guitar wiz Magnus Berg shows off his great feel for a variety of blues styles on this mix of standards, such as “San-Ho-Zay”, “Kansas City Blues”, and a re-styled take on “Hoochie Coochie Man”, […]