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Schumann: Carnival, Papillons, Etc / Nelson Freire

Release Date: 10/14/2003 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 000122802   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nelson Freire
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

As the Universal Classics publicity machine works overtime promoting its younger artists, I only hope the humans that run it have budgeted equal attention toward their senior contract players, specifically Nelson Freire, whose second Decca release--an all-Schumann recital--is an absolute beauty. The oddball cast of characters portrayed in Carnaval's 20 mini-movements bustle with life under Freire's imaginative fingers, from the opening piece's giddy abandon to the resolute yet flexible finale. He employs liberal rubato and tempo adjustments that never sound forced nor cause momentary jitters in the basic pulse, as Evgeny Kissin's similar gestures all too often do. In addition, Freire's attention to
Read more inner voices and hidden counterpoints creates ravishing textural diversity. Listen, for example, to Eusebius, where he slightly emphasizes the top note in the rolled left-hand chords, or notice in the Papillons movement how he differentiates the szforzandos from the accented notes by articulation rather than volume. Notwithstanding a recent crop of excellent Carnavals from young contenders (Freddy Kempf, George-Emmanuel Lazaridis, and Konstantin Lifschiftz), Freire's interpretation is destined for reference status--and incidentally, supercedes his own long-out-of-print Columbia Masterworks account from the early 1970s.

The shorter multi-movement works fare equally well. Freire's treatment of Papillons' final pages is worth the price of the disc. Observing Schumann's long pedal marking, the pianist creates a halo of spooky, disembodied sonorities out of which the high, intoning A-naturals cry for help. One quibble: Freire ignores No. 2's D.C. indication, and consequently the tiny movement literally ends before it begins. Lyric intimacy in introspective movements plus sharply pointed rhythms in the faster ones characterize Freire's gorgeous Kinderszenen. He links up certain movements where most pianists normally pause, and he pays attention to the composer's bass lines without fawning over them. A beautifully gauged Arabeske brings this splendidly engineered program to an enchanting conclusion. Don't pass this up!

--Jed Distler
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Works on This Recording

Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nelson Freire (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Papillons, Op. 2 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nelson Freire (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1831; Germany 
Kinderszenen, Op. 15 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nelson Freire (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Arabeske for Piano in C major, Op. 18 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nelson Freire (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 

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