. . . Freire's at home with Chopin, his radiant sound and lyricism shot through with an incisive technique, here warmly recorded.
. . . [a] stunning recording . . . Freire approaches the music with elegance and his innate sense of melody. The recording cements Nelson Freire's reputation as not only one of the finest Chopin interpreters but one of the greatest pianists working today.
. . . a Chopin collection that culminates in a beautifully controlled account of the limpid second piano concerto, with the Gürzenich players bringing grace and intelligence to the notoriously staid orchestral writing. As substantial hors d'oeuvres, Freire gives us a plateful of Chopin favourites, including the delicious Ballade No 4 in F minor, Op 52 . . . and the toothsome Berceuse in D flat major, Op. 57, each a masterclass in elegant restraint.
The Piano Concerto No 2 is at its best wherever Freire is ravishing the ear with showers of notes that glisten with precision . . . [in the solo music] Freire is in his element, ravishing in the "Berceuse", evocative in three of the Mazurkas, atmospheric and subtly inspiring in the Fourth Ballade.
[Chopin 2]: The concerto is a delight. In some ways it is better than the more often played Concerto No. 1. Mostly I love the slow movement, and Friere seems to love it, too, giving it an unhurried and sensuous performance. That same ungrandstanding, sensual feeling also fills the rest of the music . . . Friere's quiet, sensitive approach fit the rest of this music -- a lot of which is unbelievably delicate -- pretty much perfectly.
. . . it would be a rare connoisseur not to recognise a major master in the lyrical, rhythmically buoyant, spiritually abundant playing here of Chopin's Third Impromptu. Freire's sheer love of music, and of this music, is positively incandescent. On an altogether different scale, but at the same Olympian level, is his unfurling of the Ballade No. 4, whose thematic entanglements, intertwining moods and paradoxical combinations of the profound and the frivolous are bound together in a continuous, intensifying drama . . . [not] many pianists exploit such a richly varied colouristic palette in the service of structural and emotional cohesion. This is playing of exceptional virility, entirely untainted by machismo posturing or narcissistic display. Chopin stands fully revealed as a giant . . . In the miraculous and miniature Berceuse, Freire comes close to perfection.
. . . [an] outstanding Chopin collection . . . [Piano Concerto no. 2]: This surely is among the finest recordings available of this work, with a particularly lovely second movement . . . [the other pieces are] a splendid selection of Chopin's works many of which are Freire's only recordings. Excellent sound throughout . . .
. . . those who warm to his proverbial fluency will take a particular shine to his gracefully inflected way with the Third Impromptu's elegant serpentine tracery . . . Three Mazurkas are spun off with an evasive ease . . . The Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra under Lionel Bringuier bring a welcome burst of character to their role; Decca's recording is outstanding . . .
. . . a lovely program that shows off the undimmed poetic genius of both composer and pianist . . . [a] fine Chopin disc . . . [the solo selections make for] a delightful mini-recital . . . There is love here, an unquestionable affinity for the music at hand. While Freire brings his customary poetry and seriousness to the project, he doesn't downplay the strength of Chopin, either . . . [Freire has] mastered the balance between beauty of sound and the essential virtuosity these works require. The sound is quite fine, and each selection is well-shaped . . . [in the Concerto, Freire spins] melody after melody . . . I was certainly happy to have heard this disc . . . the solo works feature clear and spacious sound . . .
. . . [every Chopin lover will want to hear this CD:] the performances are that distinguished. They start with an exceptionally flexible Third Impromptu, in which Freire teases out its voices like a cat playing with a ball of yarn. The Fourth Ballade opens luminously . . . [Freire's version] is captivating. His "Berceuse" is tender and reflective . . . [the Mazurkas] are filled with rhythmic elan and piquant colors . . . [in the "Heroic" Polonaise, Freire] summons a rich tone with remarkable ease . . . [Piano Concerto no. 2]: He takes charge with his first entrance in the opening movement. His use of the left hand conveys a great deal of dramatic punch. Freire portrays the composer in this movement as no shrinking violet, but an artist in the throes of passion . . . At times, as in Freire's string tremolo episode, he is almost breathless . . . Lionel Bringuier, in tune with his soloist, is vivid and dramatic . . . The sound engineering throughout the disc is very good, clear and open.
Beautifully recorded, open, tangible and unprocessed, leading up to the Concerto Nelson Freire gives an unaffected recital of Chopin solos that embrace a spontaneous, beguiling and eloquent Impromptu, a Ballade that is at once direct yet elusive and most sensitively realised with a range of colours and dynamics, then a dreamy Berceuse followed by a trio of Mazurkas that are respectively earthy, teasing and mercurial -- the music's complexities unravelled without denuding inherent enigmas -- and to round things up a Polonaise that is noble and pulsating. With a detailed and alert accompaniment from Lionel Bringuier and the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne, Freire continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most discriminating pianists around, for this account of the F-minor Piano Concerto -- lively and malleable in the first movement, distinguished by strength, affection and old-world charm, then hauntingly expressive in the nocturne-like Larghetto, and finally dancing vivaciously -- is the epitome of innate Chopin-playing, completing a release that is a winner.
Nelson Freire joue Chopin, la poésie même . . . Chaque nouveau CD de Nelson Freire est un événement; celui-ci, entièrement dédié à Chopin, ne fait pas exception à la règle . . . On ne peut que saluer bien bas l'admirable sens du chant qui transfigure la simple "Berceuse" et fait de ces quatre minutes un pur enchantement. Que ce soit dans l'élégance des mazurkas ou de l'impromptu comme du "Larghetto" du concerto, c'est dans les moments les plus lyriques que le meilleur du musicien trouve à s'exprimer . . . la perfection de la mise en place et surtout ce toucher magique font fondre l'auditeur . . . il faut reconnaître que le travail approfondi de Lionel Bringuier parvient à mettre en valeur la finesse d'une orchestration moins rustique qu'on ne le dit trop souvent. Attentif à son prestigieux soliste, il ne bride en tout cas jamais son expression et concourt à l'éblouissante réussite de cet enregistrement. Une merveille, vraiment!
. . . la partie soliste montre un Nelson Freire au jeu toujours aussi passionnant. Une respiration continue volant au-dessus des basses dans l'Impromptu no. 3, un talent de conteur hors pair dans la Ballade no 4 al lié à des phrasés sans concession, parfois farouches mais remplis de poésie . . . Peu idiomatiques, les trois mazurkas de l'Opus 50 nous tiennent cependant en haleine, notamment la fameuse troisième, "Mazurka-Fantaisie" selon le mot de Guy Sacre, dont Freire se plait à exacerber les humeurs avec quelques retards rythmiques venus tout droit de la bossa nova . . . [Piano Concerto no. 2]: le Larghetto central, où la sonorité enjoleuse et charnue du pianiste nous laisse toujours bouche bée (et quels trilles!).