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Nelson Freire: Chopin – The Nocturnes (2 CD, FLAC)

Nelson Freire: Chopin - The Nocturnes (2 CD, FLAC)
Nelson Freire: Chopin - The Nocturnes (2 CD, FLAC)

Performer: Nelson Freire
Composer: Frédéric François Chopin
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 302 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

Disc 1:
01. Nocturne No.1 In B Flat Minor, Op.9 No.1
02. Nocturne No.2 In E Flat, Op.9 No.2
03. Nocturne No.3 In B, Op.9 No.3
04. Nocturne No.4 In F, Op.15 No.1
05. Nocturne No.5 In F Sharp, Op.15 No.2
06. Nocturne No.6 In G Minor, Op.15 No.3
07. Nocturne No.7 In C Sharp Minor, Op.27 No.1
08. Nocturne No.8 In G Flat, Op.27 No.2
09. Nocturne No.9 In B, Op.32 No.1
10. Nocturne No.10 In A Flat, Op.32 No.2

Disc 2:
01. Nocturne No.11 In G Minor, Op.37 No.1
02. Nocturne No.12 In G, Op.37 No.2
03. Nocturne No.13 In C Minor, Op.48 No.1
04. Nocturne No.14 In F Sharp Minor, Op.48 No.2
05. Nocturne No.15 In F Minor, Op.55 No.1
06. Nocturne No.16 In E Flat, Op.55 No.2
07. Nocturne No.17 In B, Op.62 No.1
08. Nocturne No.18 In E, Op.62 No.2
09. Nocturne No.19 In E Minor, Op.72 No.1
10. Nocturne No.20 In C Sharp Minor, Op.Posth.

Chopin’s Nocturnes – a perfect vehicle for Nelson Freire’s poetic sensitivity

There is no doubt that Nelson Freire is one of the most gifted and charismatic pianists of our time. His special sensitivity and technical ease have entitled him (from the very beginning of his career, some decades ago) to be regarded as a refined poet among the keyboard virtuosos. Now in his mid-sixties, Freire enjoys a time of special achievements at the peak of his mellow artistry, by exploring different stylistic territories (Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Beethoven, Schumann) both on disc and on stage with undiminished passion and outstanding results. His compelling interpretations are samples of intense musicianship enthusiastically sniffed by music-lovers and professionals alike.

Freire’s soft and natural touch looks perfectly suitable to Chopin’s tendency towards confession and introspection, features unfolded especially in his Nocturnes where the poetry must be rather suggested than boldly affirmed and the technical skills serve as a simple vehicle for romantic expressiveness, confined to making sense and rising genuine emotion. Nocturnes were conceived as reflective small poems (what else can be considered for instance op.9 no.2 or op.15 no.1?) sprinkled here and there with contrasting outbursts. Their dreamlike mood bets on the atmosphere, lays the stress on the filigree in phrasing, shades light on fine nuances, and makes thus each detail decisively count. All these small-scale entities are then combined to reveal the structure of the whole, to get the line of significance and feeling from apparently contrasting – and sometimes diverging – details. This, of course, calls for a master of intuition and sensitivity and even more, an exquisite evocative performer.

All his special gifts – including that keen sense of melody and natural affinity with daring (but suggestive, perfectly adequate) harmonies the Polish composer so generously exploited throughout his work – qualifies Nelson Freire for such a role. I dare state that Chopin chose Freire and not vice versa, as the Brazilian pianist proves more compellingly here than anywhere else on his previous recordings that he has no rival in conveying Chopin’s mood, his insolvable melancholy. The inwardness (listen, for example, the two wonderful nocturnes op.27) gets sad (but not cold) inflexions, bordering on mystery and even trance. Although, there are other valuable versions (Pollini, Moravec, Leonskaja, Pires, Ohlsson) of the complete Nocturnes in the market, Freire’s account stands as a milestone among them. At the same level of artistry (but achieved by means of a completely opposite approach) Pollini’s recent account conceives an austere version of the whole set, detached from all that sweet romantic melancholy. Valuating a restrained, aristocratic coldness and finding painful inflexions in sadness, some ironical accents in lament, and no room for sentimentality in discourse.

A few years ago, I had the precious opportunity to be in the audience attending Nelson Freire’s two-folded appearance in Bucharest during the 2007 “George Enescu” Festival. About the two-piano recital he gave on that occasion with sparkling Martha Argerich I mentioned in a previous review (on their Salzburg recital recording). Here – in connection with the composer under consideration – I am happy to remember the superb version of the F minor Piano Concerto he performed on that very occasion accompanied by the Bucharest Philharmonic under Michel Plasson. Enchanting – genuinely Chopinesque! – rendition to be cherished among my beloved musical memories! Now, Nelson Freire performing on disc Complete Nocturnes: a true delight for celebrating the Chopin Year!

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