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Nelson Freire’s innate musicality and fine technique guarantee playing of the very highest order in whatever he touches. Recorded in 2013, all these performances carry a Freire characteristic: the impression of going straight to the heart of the composer, certainly the case in the performance of the first piece Impromptu No 3. Freire’s understanding of the drama of Chopin is remarkable: listen to how the bass in the Fourth Ballade carries a weight of expression that lifts the performance. The spectacularly delicate Mazurkas give way to a ‘Heroic’ Polonaise that is not as dynamic as some (Pollini, for example), nor as fervent as others; but in compensation there is the tremendous rhythmic control and a sense of the work’s trajectory. The concerto is beautifully shaded by Freire, with the Cologne orchestra in fine form, immensely sensitive to the pianist’s rubato. Freire himself in the booklet acknowledges his debt to fellow Brazilian Guiomar Novaes, and the two indeed share a common attention to detail.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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