Hail the return of Nelson Freire! Of course, the great Brazilian pianist has never actually been gone. Since his debut in Vienna playing Brahms' F minor Sonata at the age of 15, Freire has performed over 50 concerts a year in musical capitals like Berlin, London, Petersburg, and New York. But as far as recordings go, Freire is nearly a complete unknown with barely a handful of recordings to his credit. Still, those handful were more than enough to earn him a well-deserved volume in Philips' Great Pianists of the Twentieth Century series. Finally, in the first years of the twenty first century, Decca signed Freire to a long-term contract and this disc is his third disc for that label.
Appropriately, it is also the second disc devoted to Chopin, who, like Freire, is a true poet of the piano. In Freire's hand, every melody is phrased with its own rise and fall, every harmony is voiced with its own inner life, every rhythm is articulated with its own pulse, and everything fused together shares its own singular musical form, aesthetic shape, and emotional meaning. Also, like Chopin, Freire is an artist whose virtuoso technique is all but imperceptible because the effortless elegance of his performances often conceals the supreme virtuosity of his playing. In Freire's hands, the B flat minor Sonata is far more concentrated on the tragic drama of the music than on its massive chords, the Barcarolle is far more concerned with the graceful glide of the music than with its shimmering right hand, and, even the appallingly hard Études are far more into the poetry of the music than their transcendent difficulties. Anyone who loves great Chopin or great pianists owes it to him/herself to hear this recording. Decca's sound is cool, clear, and deep.