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

  • MoJo Pie on Lambeth Live, Mar 3

    Frank Bechter and Susan Munson, aka MoJo Pie, will put on the March 3 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to […]

  • Spotify Playlists – 2/15 – 2/21

    Soulful Situation – 2/20/17 Hosted by Rum Cove From the Dixie-fried sounds of the Southern soul centers of Muscle Shoals, Memphis, New Orleans and Shreveport to the Uptown Rhythm and Blues shots from the Northern cities of Chicago, Detroit, New York and Philadelphia, Rum Cove puts you in a Situation that is Sooo Soulful! Soulful […]

  • Kate Campbell stops by WTJU, March 4

    Kate Campbell, in town for a concert at C’Ville Coffee on Friday, March 3, will stop by WTJU the following morning, March 4, at 9 (est) for a visit with Atlantic Weekly host Terry Carpenter.

  • WTJU Celebrates Fat Tuesday at IX Art Park, Feb 28

    Coming up February the 28th, aka Fat Tuesday, from 7-10 pm, WTJU presents the live sounds of Eli Cook, Joe Lawlor, Andy Waldeck, Nate Brown and Kristen Rae Bowden.¬† There will be cajun food and all sorts of beverages available.¬† It all takes place at IX Art Park, located at 522 2nd St SE in […]

  • Barbara Harbach – Portraits in Sound

    This volume brings listeners up to date with Barbara Harbach’s symphonic output. It features symphonies No. 7-10, composed between 2014 and 2015. Harbach is an economical symphonist — the works are uniformly short, focused, and efficiently orchestrated. All four symphonies¬†follow a straight-forward 3-movement fast-slow-fast structure. Yet with all these constraints, Harbach shows a great deal […]

  • New Blues News – 2/21/2017

    New Blues News – 2/21/2017 John Ginty featuring Aster Pheonyx – Rockers (American Showplace Music): John Ginty (composer, organ, piano, melodica, percussion) has a new disc and continues to stretch his blues rock mixture with some jazzy touches and new lead singer / guitarist, Aster Pheonyx. She has a purr and a growl that match […]