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Put simply, this is great Brahms playing. Freire presents the monumental F minor sonata in all its granitic glory while honouring the music’s moments of tenderness. Textures are always clear, often illuminated from within. Decca’s recording is remarkable in reproducing Freire’s presence and glowing tone. This is a piece that has been with him for a lifetime: he included it on his first LP recording for CBS back in1967. An autumnal glow now suffuses Freire’s reading, as if everything has fallen fully into place, yet there is exuberance to the central Scherzo, and glorious sophistication to the finale.

The carefully programmed selection of shorter pieces includes the complete Op 119. Freire revels in the crepuscular Op 76, Nos 3 and 4 while pinpointing the magic of Op 119/1; the programme as a whole traverses Brahms’ piano output. An absolute joy from first to last.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing