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

  • Mipso stop by Sunset Road on Road to Delfest, Apr 29

    Chapel Hill, NC quartet Mipso return to the WTJU studios this Friday afternoon, April 29, at 4 (edt) to kick off Sunset Road.  Later that evening you can catch them on The Road To Delfest with The Travelin’ McCourys at The Jefferson Theater in downtown Charlottesville (details).

  • Bayou Faux Pas on Lambeth Live, May 13

    Central Virginia’s premiere Cajun band, Bayou Faux Pas, will put on the May 13 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 […]

  • WTJU Presents Allison Miller and Boom Tic Boom May 3rd

    Picture taken by the Lincoln Center The star-studded jazz sextet Boom Tic Boom will perform in concert Tuesday May 3rd at The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, sponsored by WTJU and The Charlottesville Jazz Society.  The group is on tour to promote their latest release, Otis Was a Polar Bear, which includes all original material composed […]

  • New Blues & Soul News – 4/25/2016

    New Blues & Soul News – 4/25/2016 New Blues Adds: Mike Eldred Trio – Baptist Town (Great Western): This is Eldred’s fourth release and it reaches for the roots that stoked the original fires at Sun Studio, where it was recorded. There are blues, gospel, country proto-rock influences all over it. The sound ranges from […]

  • jazz adds april 25, 2016

    david murray+geri allen+terri lyne carrington.  perfection.  motema.  tribute to innovator ornette coleman from david murray, tenor +bass clarinet;  geri allen, queen of the piano;  and terri lyne carrington@drums.  quality material all around, especially folk song barbara allen which the late charlie haden (inspired by years with ornette)  brought to geri allen’s earlier trio ;  centerpiece, […]

  • The Sirens of Spring Tour on WTJU’s “Wild Women and Friends” May 12

    Baltimore Based Mama’s Black Sheep and Philadelphia based Christine Havrilla will stop by the WTJU studios on Thursday May 12th from 11am-12pm EST during their 4th annual SIRENS OF SPRING TOUR. The SIRENS OF SPRING TOUR is a 22-day, 14-city tour featuring female singer-songwriters. SIRENS OF SPRING started as a co-bill tour with Mama’s Black […]