“Few pianists alive convey the sheer joy and exhilaration of being masters of their craft more vividly and uncomplicatedly than Nelson Freire.”

Guardian (London)

“In [an] age… when overt showmanship reaps big rewards and grabs lots of attention, the Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire offers a gentle reminder that decorous piano playing and interpretive depth have an irresistible power all their own.”

The New York Times


Nelson Freire marks his 70th birthday year with the release of three landmark albums on the Decca label. The Brazilian pianist, born on 18 October 1944, returns to record with Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig for the first time since their award-winning recording of the Brahms piano concertos. Their latest album features Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, universally known as the “Emperor”, paired with Freire’s direct and dramatic interpretation of the Piano Sonata No. 31 in C minor Op. 111, the composer’s last piano sonata. The new recording, set for release in September 2014, stands as the first issue in a complete cycle of Beethoven’s five piano concertos, which Freire plans to make with the Gewandhausorchester and Maestro Chailly.

Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto has been at the heart of Nelson Freire’s repertoire since he first performed the work at the age of twelve: his first-prize winning performance at the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition. This enabled him to study in Vienna with Bruno Seidlhofer, teacher of Friedrich Gulda.

“The development in Beethoven’s music was extraordinary — no other composer made such a huge journey in creativity,” comments Freire. “And the fact that he could not hear any more is just astounding. He heard it in his head and in his heart, so maybe he was not limited by the sounds the pianos of his day would make, so he let his imagination go beyond what he’d once heard.”

In the early years of his long and distinguished career, Nelson Freire attracted a loyal following among connoisseurs of fine pianism. He was dubbed by The Times (London) as “the young lion of the keyboard” and described by Time magazine as “one of the most exciting pianists of this or any age”.

Decca has mined the archives of radio stations in France, Germany and the Netherlands to create an unmissable double-album set, Radio Days, of recordings made during Freire’s twenties and early thirties. The compilation includes his thrilling live interpretations of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Schumann’s rarely performed Concert Introduction and Allegro in D minor.

“Radio Days brings together concerts I gave in Europe from the beginning of my career,” Nelson Freire recalls. “I think it’s good to bring them out, because they largely cover the period when I didn’t make many recordings. The album, released in September, spans recordings made between 1968 and 1979 and documents the pianist’s collaborations with such conductors as Kurt Masur and David Zinman.

Nelson Freire’s big birthday celebrations continue in 2015 with the release of a third Decca recording, an album devoted to Chopin, including his Piano Concerto No.2 and solo works.

Meanwhile, the pianist is set to perform Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto on tour in Mexico and South America with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy (9-17 September 2014). He returns to the work for concerts in St Petersburg with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev (12 & 14 October) and at London’s Barbican Centre with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda (2 November). Freire’s 2014/15 season also includes a recital at the Salle Pleyel, Paris (15 November) and performances of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in Zurich with the Tonhalle Orchestra and Lionel Bringuier.

Radio Days - Album Sampler