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Classical Editor
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CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Waldesrauschen, S145/1 (1863) [4.00]
Sonetto 104 del Petrarca, S161/5 (1846) [5.56]
Valse oubliée in F sharp major, S215/1 (1881) [2.44]
Ballade No, 2 in B minor, S171 (1854) [13.43]
Au lac de Wallenstadt, S160/2 (1855) [2.44]
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3, S244/3 (1854) [4.24]
Six Consolations, S172 (1850) [16.02]
Harmonies du soir, S139/11 (1851) [8.36]
Nelson Freire (piano)
rec. Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, Hamburg, 26-31 January 2011
DECCA 478 2728 [56.09]

Experience Classicsonline

This is a wonderful piano recital. Freire’s tone is exquisite throughout and at the same time he produces a dazzling virtuoso display, negotiating Liszt’s cascading octaves, leaps, runs and difficult passage work with gusto. He selects a range of pieces from throughout Liszt’s career, including a selection from ‘Années de Pelerinage’, to the late ‘Valse oubliée’ with its dissonant chromatic harmonies.

Freire opens his recital with Waldesrauschen (or ‘Forest murmurs’) which was originally published as one of two concert studies with Gnomenreigen. Freire’s opening right hand figurations were of gossamer delicacy and lightness and the melody in the left hand finely shaped. The range of tone colours and textures evoked were quite breathtaking, and Freire shows his mettle by powering through Liszt’s virtuoso passage-work and cadenzas. Having demonstrated his virtuoso credentials, Freire then turned to the second Petrarch sonnet from Liszt’s ‘Années de Pelerinage’. This was a full-blooded performance with Freire bringing out the rich sonorities and yearning passions in the piece.

Freire again shows us a range of tone colours and textures in the first of Liszt’s four Valse oubliées. The opening was spiky and angular and the passage-work very dry and clear, but there was then a seamless transition into the amorous passions of the central sections. The second Ballade was the longest piece in this magnificent recital. Liszt’s Ballades are very different from those of Chopin and the second is a large-scale programmatic work with a rather loose structure which can make it difficult to bring off. Freire navigated his way through the technically demanding passage-work with aplomb, and injected drama and a sense of unifying cohesion throughout.

Can everyone reading this review please listen to Freire’s wonderful recording of ‘Au lac de Wallenstadt’. This short piece also forms part of ‘Années de Pelerinage’ and Marie d’Agoult (Liszt’s then mistress) describes it as being “imitative of the sigh of waves and the cadence of oars”. Freire captures beautifully the motion of a boat charting its way through quiet waters in the left hand figurations while evoking resonant Alpine sounds. The third Hungarian Rhapsody is one of Liszt’s shorter and lesser known pieces in the form. Freire’s control of rhythm and his delicacy in the fast or ‘friss’ sections were quite breathtaking.

Liszt’s six Consolations are technically much less demanding than most of his other piano works although the sixth is not without its difficulties. The third is the most famous and beautiful piece in the set and is reminiscent of Chopin’s Nocturne in D flat. Freire brings a ravishingly beautiful tone to the third while he captures and frames perfectly the quirky elusiveness of the sixth. Freire finishes his recital with Liszt’s penultimate transcendental study entitled ‘Harmonies du soir’ which also serves as the title for this disc. This is a study in tone colours, broken chords and harmonic progressions. Freire brings his full tonal palette to the work creating exquisite colours and textures. Altogether, this is an absolutely superlative recital.

Robert Beattie













































































































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