Nelson Freire RIP……the legacy of a great artist

Nelson gave two recitals for us at the Ghione theatre .Memorable performances of Schumann Carnaval and Brahms F minor Sonata.
It was a few years later after the death of my wife that he played at the Brazilian Embassy to repay their hospitality while he was playing Brahms 2 at S.Cecilia .
It was a memorable occasion not only for the whole recital but for a little encore by Villa Lobos .After the concert I was surprised and very moved when he said that it had been my wife’s favourite encore at his concerts for us.

with Ileana Ghione


Nelson was like that a wonderful sensitive person and one of the greatest pianists I have heard .He was quite simply the Rubinstein of today.Like Rubinstein it was in live performance that the legend really began.His recordings are not always geared to the recording studio like his Chopin studies recorded at Snape where he adds an octave here and there as he and Rubinstein would do on the spur of the moment in the concert hall.His performance of Chopin 2 at the proms was notable for how he played a very light bass note at the beginning to open up the sonority of the piano entry high up on the keyboard.Always discreet and with great style not like some performers these days who think they have a special contact with Beethoven as they desecrate his most perfect creation :the Fourth Concerto with spread chords opening flourishes and alarming additions to the score in the name of authenticity.Some even add improvised Rachmaninovian cadenzas where Beethoven had left his own .

with Christopher Axworthy


There was none of this with Nelson who like Rubinstein with humility and love would seek out a performance of such simplicity and overwhelming beauty that would hold audiences mesmerised.He was a true legend in South America and we were lucky to catch only a rare glimpse of his solo recitals
A great void has now opened but thank God we still have his best friend Martha Argerich who had left everything to be at his bedside.
He was launched to fame in Europe when he stood in at a weeks notice for Shura Cherkassky learning especially Tchaikowsky n.2 creating a sensation and overnight success.
Of course his duo concert at the Southbank festival with Martha Argerich after a shopping spree together in London just before has quite rightly gone down in legend

on stage in the Teatro Ghione

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