Just as the 2010 celebration of the bicentennial of Frédéric Chopin's birth inspired a large number of releases devoted to his piano music, 2011 marked the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt's birth, and similarly yields a bumper crop of recordings. Nelson Freire's 2010 album of Chopin's Nocturnes was a highlight of that year, so Liszt: Harmonies du Soir is a similar tribute that significantly adds to the pianist's comparatively small number of digital recordings for Decca. This collection of pieces in lyrical, literary, or characteristic veins gives a somewhat broader portrait of Liszt than the Nocturnes offered of Chopin, and Freire's abilities and sensibilities are revealed to a greater extent in this varied program. The refinement and lyricism that permeated the Nocturnes and their performances are replaced with a more passionate and changeable music, for here the styles, techniques, and expressions are more volatile, and the composer's extroverted tendencies stand in contrast to Chopin's reserved emotions. Freire has chosen pieces that are generally reflective and gentle in mood, though the shimmering filigree in the writing frequently erupts in dazzling displays of virtuosity, which a showman like Liszt couldn't restrain for long and which give this program its vibrant colors and interest. Decca's sound is clear and enjoyable for its pleasant ambience.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson