Nelson Freire is at the pinnacle of his form for this thoughtfully programmed, beautifully engineered all-Liszt recital, from the unusually swift yet perpetually singing opening salvo Waldesrauschen to the impassioned and imaginatively pedaled Harmonies du soir that concludes. Fire and poetry intensely interweave throughout the Sonetto 104 del Petrarca, followed by a highly articulated Valse Oubliée No. 1 that's more dynamically charged than the norm.
How masterfully Freire gauges the B minor Ballade's narrative sweep, as he uncovers often ignored inner voices that in most performances are buried in the wild arpeggios and broken octaves. Fine as the Louis Lortie and JeromeRead more Lowenthal renditions of Au lac de Wallenstadt may be in their recent complete traversals of the Années de Pèlerinage, Freire's more pliable phrasing and multi-layered textures create a more translucent, magical effect.
The Third Hungarian Rhapsody's subtle speed-ups and evocatively shaded cimbalom-like phrases couldn't be more elegant and idiomatic, while Freire's earth-shattering sonority in the low register defines pianistic shock and awe. It's also good to hear all six Consolations as a cycle, especially through Freire's ravishing, heartfelt artistry. Just sample the melting legato lines in No. 2, which owes more than a little to Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words, or the muted, ethereal, No. 3. In short, Freire's gorgeous, utterly inspired Liszt playing belongs in every piano lover's collection.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
To play Liszt one must possess an almost superhuman technique, an acute sense of detail, a large and varied palette of colors, and stamina galore to manage through the especially thorny passages found in many of the composer’s compositions, never losing sight of the fantastical elements inherent in much of this music. Nelson Freire brings all of these qualities to the table and then some. It is always a pleasure to listen to Liszt’s music when someone with such a profound ability to play the notes and shape the lines fluently tackles this music and makes it sound as easy as he does here. It is not just the technically difficult works here that astonish, however. Only a few of the items here can even be considered virtuoso works—the Ballade No. 2,
Harmonies du soir, and perhaps the never slight but certainly not most difficult of the Hungarian Rhapsodies, the Third. Much of this program then is about subtlety and the way in which Freire is able to let the music speak for itself. His traversal of the Consolations is at times lyrical, at times stormy. The more popular second and third ones are at times straightforward, at times dreamy, but always heartfelt. The Valse oubliée begins with its little quirky staccato chords, which leads to an ever-impassioned octave melody in its middle section, before giving way to a most sensual account of the piece’s closing pages. In less than three minutes Freire is able to draw one’s attention, bring one in, and keep one there. For me, his shaping of lines throughout is a high point. The way that the beautiful little melody pops out over the cushion of sound that he creates in the Ballade No. 2, especially after the impact of the fiery octaves, is palpable in effect; one’s heart melts. His ability to alter timbre—just witness the cimbalom effect he creates in the Hungarian Rhapsody—is astonishing in its re-creation of the exact sound of the other instrument. Though at times the fluency with which Freire brings to this music may seem cold to some, his engagement with the music always ensures that the meaning behind the compositions is the first thing on his mind—something that the listener is sure to hear in his playing. If Liszt is your composer, you should not be without this important disc.
LISZT a la RAVELAugust 6, 2013By Peter T. (Bethesda, MD)See All My Reviews"To my ears these are brilliant, ice cold performances, quite impressionistic, more suitable for Ravel. Next, I do not understand how DECCA can declare - on the back side - that NF is widely acclaimed as an exceptional interpreter of the music of LIszt. As far as I can gather besides this record NF has recorded only LIszt's works for piano and orchestra and does not play this composer in his recitals regularly. Only Decca knows how one can be widely recognized for something he does do. Marketing, marketing,...."Report Abuse