LISZT Harmonies du Soir
Some piano recital discs send you scuttling to the score to check whether the composer really did write what you’ve just heard; others just leave you sitting there wreathed in smiles, wishing it would go on for longer. Not surprisingly given the pianist, this one falls into the latter category.
Freire’s selection is a judiciously varied programme of works for which he has a particular fondness – and it shows. Waldesrauschen (given here unusually without its travelling companion, Gnomenreigen) is a masterly display of tonal and dynamic grading with acute responses to all of Liszt’s explicit requests (tre corde poco e poco più agitato, for example, martellato, strepitoso), all the time leaving us with a sense of something left in reserve.
Such finesse is true of the whole recital. Again and again one marvels at the spontaneity of Freire’s playing, his ability to think in long paragraphs and bring an almost improvisatory air to proceedings (Valse oubliée, the rarely featured Hungarian Rhapsody No 3 and all six Consolations). Harmonies du soir, rousing Freire to the heights of passion, completes the disc in triumphant style. My only niggle is the rather too slow tempo for the allegro moderato section of the Ballade No 2 with the big tune that furnishes the final pages and the unaccountable cut of eight bars just afterwards – the section referred to in the notes as the inspiration for the cadenza to Grieg’s Piano Concerto. But don’t let such nit-picking stop you from buying this magnificent tribute to Liszt’s genius.