Beethoven at his grandest, and then at his most searching . . . Nelson Freire in superb form. The Concerto receives a bracing outing, Freire benefiting from a wonderfully prepared and vividly detailed accompaniment from the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly, and the recording is well-balanced, the piano not too close and with plenty to be heard from the orchestra. It's a dynamic performance, the first movement exuberant and energised, but with melting lyricism too distilled with a quiet inwardness that catches the senses. The result is that such ubiquitous music is refreshed and enjoys enlivened interplay. Freire's selfless but characterful playing is especially tender in the starlit slow movement, lovingly spacious, led-off by honeyed string-playing and responded to by Freire in a way that melts the heart. By contrast, the finale has a joyous bounce, eager yet poised. Very simply, this is a marvellous account of the 'Emperor'. So too Opus 111, full of rhetoric, suspense, drive and deep musical consideration. Freire is a cultured musician who has searched the music without draining it of spontaneity. In the second (and last) movement, the 'Arietta' (a theme and variations), he keeps things on the move and is structurally inevitable while keeping intact its spiritualism and vision. In short this is a compelling reading informed by much wisdom to complete an impressive release.
. . . a fine, clear, passionate recording of some of the most beautiful music ever written . . . it's the Allegro movement that we enjoy the most . . . [Piano Sonata No 32]: a further showcase to Nelson Freire's extraordinary talents. Overall, we enjoyed this recording very much. Nelson Freire and Riccardo Chailly are a natural pairing, and for a thoroughly decent recording of one of Beethoven's best-loved concertos, with the added bonus of a contrasting sonata, this album has a rewarding variation of moods and a balance between piano solo and piano with orchestral accompaniment.
If two musicians could put a new shine on Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, the "Emperor", it was a good bet they would be pianist Nelson Freire and conductor Riccardo Chailly . . . [Freire's playing] is marvellously lucid and imaginative. Together, he and Chailly banish the pompous air that often stifles performances of the "Emperor" and replace it with a fresh, keen atmosphere with glimpses of a radiant, cloudless sky. Freire's filler, a luminous performance of Beethoven's Op. 11 Piano Sonata, is no less absorbing.