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

  • New Jazz Adds – 7/30/2015

    New Jazz Adds – 8/3/2015 Chris Dingman – The Subliminal And The Sublime (Inner Arts Initiative): Dingman composes and plays vibraphone as well as creating beautiful sonic textures through his direction and melding the performance of the players in his group: Loren Stillman (alto sax), Fabian Almazan (piano), Ryan Ferreira (guitar), Linda Oh (bass) and […]

  • Aug 1 Gather ‘Round: The Revelers (2015)

    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!  91.1 FM around Charlottesville, 102.9 FM down […]

  • Veracini – Sonate Accademiche come alive

    Francesco Maria Veracini, along with his contemporaries Giuseppe Tartini and Pietro Locatelli, continually pushed to expand the technical abilities of the violin. The 1743 Sonate Accademiche (Sonatas for Violin and Continuo, Op. 2) require quite a lot from the violinist. The Trio Settecento understands that, and delivers performances full of fire and energy. Violinist Rachel Barton […]

  • New Blues News – 7/28/2015

    New Blues News – 7/28/2015 Greg Allman Live – Back To Macon, GA – 1/14/2014 (Rounder): Greg Allman live and in front of his old home town folks with a good rockin’ band including Scott Sharrard (guitar), Ron Johnson (bass), Ben Stivers (keys), Steve Potts (drums), Marc Quinones (percussion), Jay Collins and Art Edmaiston (saxophones), […]

  • Commotio – organ music from the interwar period

    Organist Christian Wilson chose an unusual program for his latest release, Commotio. Subtitled “organ works of the interwar period,” it features compositions written between 1924 and 1931. Wilson’s choices demonstrate the wide variety of styles in play during that tightly circumscribed time frame. Some composers are familiar, others less so. Olivier Messiaen and Maurice Duruflé […]

  • Allen Toussaint Interview 2008

    Allen Toussaint, legendary New Orleans songwriter and producer, interviewed  in late 2008. You can download the interview here or stream it live below: