Nelson Freire

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 27/2, 53, 81a & 110

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 27/2, 53, 81a & 110 Review

by James Leonard

It sometimes seems like a dream that the great Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire has returned to the recording studio. But with this, his fifth Decca disc since the turn of the century, it can no longer be denied: Freire has triumphantly returned. And with this, his first Beethoven disc, it can no longer be argued: Freire is a master musician who has as much to say about the repertoire he chooses to perform as the greatest pianists of the past. Freire's "Waldstein" has a velocity and intensity that few can match and his "Les Adieux" has a melancholy and joy that even fewer can match. Better yet, Freire's "Moonlight" Sonata has a serenity and expressivity that make the work glow with supernatural light, while his Opus 110 Sonata has a power and depth that make the work shine with spiritual ecstasy. One could point out that Freire's technique equals Brendel's, that his tone equals Kovacevich's, and that his sense of balance equals Pollini's, but the real miracle here is Freire's unique interpretive personality. At once hot and cool, impetuous and measured, Freire always seems to know where he's going -- and always seems surprised and delighted to get there. Captured in Decca's lushly detailed digital sound, this disc should be heard by anyone who loves great piano playing.

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