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

  • Remembering Clark Terry: A Celebration of the Late Jazz Trumpeter

    Ann Porotti sat down with Charlottesville dance educator Anne Megibow, Clark Terry’s goddaughter, on the February 25th edition of All That Jazz to celebrate the life and music of Clark Terry, who passed away on Saturday, February 21st at the age of 94. Clark Terry was described in a New York Times obituary as, “one of […]

  • Feb 28 Gather Round: Liz Carroll & John Doyle at The Prism (2001)

    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 program comes from The Prism […]

  • WTJU Presents Solas at The Jefferson Theater, Feb 26

    WTJU is delighted to present Solas in concert at The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville on Thursday, February 26.  Opening for them will be members of the Blue Ridge Irish Music School. Before Solas heads over to The Jefferson Theater for sound check, this internationally renowned band will first stop by the WTJU studios for a […]

  • On With The Show now weekly .. and a new Thursday morning host

    On With The Show, our biweekly program devoted to musical theater, has been such a success with listeners that it will now be heard every Friday evening 6-8 pm, here on WTJU. Thom Pease is your Master of Ceremonies, ably assisted by Charles Peale and Brad Sayler.  We hope you’ll tune in, get your feet […]

  • Renee Fleming and Olga Kern at the Paramount

    When it was announced that opera star Renee Fleming and pianist Olga Kern would appear at the Paramount in Charlottesville on February 20, a sellout was virtually guaranteed. Renee Fleming is one of opera’s brightest stars, and having an internationally known soloist like Olga Kern as her accompanist was an added bonus. Fleming is one […]

  • jazz adds february 23, 2015

    nilson matta.  east side rio drive.  world blue.  Brazil and its first cousin jazz Americano dive into arrangements by leader/bassist, Sao Paulo native nilson matta with humberto leder.  national characteristics harmonize together:  NoLa reed master (tenor + bass clarinet) craig handy and flutist anne drummond share their post-modern splash with guitarist romero lubambo, and cyro […]