Widely respected as one of today’s great pianists, Nelson Freire was once described by his record label Decca as “the best kept secret in the world of piano,” a figure of cult-like status known only to a narrow field of specialists. A string of celebrated recordings and awards, including Gramophone Magazine’s “Record of the Year” in 2007 for his Brahms Piano Concerti recording, have firmly put any ideas of connoisseurship to rest, shining a light on Freire’s universal appeal and reputation for thrilling live performance and recording projects of rare interpretive depth. For his Phillips debut, Freire presents an adroit program of music associated with his 60-year career, including selections from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Preludes, Op. 32, the complete Ballades, Op. 10 by Johannes Brahms, the Barcarolle Op. 60, Nocturne Op. 62, No. 2 and Scherzo No. 1, Op. 20 by Frédéric Chopin, and music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Zygmunt Stojowski.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-91)
10 Variations on “Unser dummer Pöbel meint” K. 455
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-97)
Ballades, Op. 10
ZYGMUNT STOJOWSKI (1869-1946)
Aspirations, Poèmes pour piano Op. 39
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Prelude in B minor, Op. 32, No. 10
Prelude in G-sharp minor, Op. 32, No. 12
FREDERIC CHOPIN (1810-49)
Barcarolle Op. 60 in F-sharp Major
Nocturne Op. 62, No. 2 in E Major
Scherzo No. 1, Op. 20
Nelson Freire has long been seen as a connoisseur’s pianist, but a series of superb recordings have raised his profile to the extent that he is now one of today’s universally recognized great musicians. Whether playing the great warhorses of the repertoire or the gentlest miniatures, he brings to his performances a level of quiet thoughtfulness that puts him in a class of his own.
Born in Boa Esperança, Brazil, he began piano lessons at the age of three with Nise Obino and Lucia Branco, who had worked with a pupil of Liszt. He made his first public appearance at the age of five playing Mozart’s Sonata K. 331. In 1957, after winning a grant at the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition with Beethoven’s Emperor concerto, he went to Vienna to study with Bruno Seidlhofer, teacher of Friedrich Gulda. Seven years later he won the Dinu Lipatti Medal in London and first prize at the International Vianna da Motta Competition in Lisbon.
Since his international career began in 1959, Freire has appeared at virtually every important musical center, in recital and working with countless distinguished conductors and orchestras. A great musical collaborator, he has toured extensively with Martha Argerich, with whom he shares a long-time musical collaboration and friendship. They have recorded several discs together, including a live recital from the Salzburg Festival. Nelson Freire is often invited to play with prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Munich Philharmonic, Symphonieorcehster des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Deutsches Symphony Orchester, Concertgebouw Orcehstra Amsterdam, BBC Symphony, London Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, NHK Tokyo, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Philharmonique de Radio France, and Orchestras of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Montréal, New York, and Philadelphia.
In 2019/20, he returns to the US for concerts with the Boston Symphony and a West Coast tour with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Lahav Shani as well as a series of recitals.