A GREAT PIANIST IN A LITTLE-KNOWN SETTING
Nelson Freire, piano, Centennial Theater, North Vancouver, April 23, 2009
The last concert of the season for the Vancouver Chopin Society featured Nelson Freire, a pianist that a small group of piano devotees have followed since his recordings of the late 1960’s, but in the last decade has received overwhelming appreciation throughout the world.
In a varied programme that included works by Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy and Villa-Lobos, the Brazilian-born pianist consistently illustrated a supreme mastery of the keyboard. His technical command is astonishing and is certainly the equal of younger virtuosos. However, it is the wisdom and concentration of his playing, his control of dynamics, and his awareness of the inner life of each work which makes one immediately think that one is witnessing one of the greatest living pianists. The fire and command conjure up visions of Vladamir Horowitz; the tonal beauty and thoughtfulness, Claudio Arrau, the transparency and the evenness of the phrasing, Murray Perahia. This is a pianist who has worked with each piano piece for 40 years and distills its essence completely. I cannot think of a more distinguished piano recital in Vancouver in recent years.
Nelson Freire is featured in the acclaimed series Great Pianists of the 20th Century on Philips. On Decca, he has recently recorded the Brahms Concertos (475 7637), a Schumann recital (473 902-2), two Chopin recitals (470 288-2 and SACD 475 6617) and a selection of Beethoven sonatas (475 8155). All these issues have received the highest critical acclaim.
Mr. Freire has also been chosen to play at the inauguration concert for the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth in Warsaw in 2010.
© Geoffrey Newman 2009