“In the age when overt showmanship reaps big rewards and grabs lots of attention, the Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire offers a gentle reminder that decorous piano playing and interpretive depth have an irresistible power all their own.” - The New York Times
Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire needs little introduction. He is a humble master of his instrument and at 73 years of age, is universally acclaimed (and signed exclusively to DECCA), receiving honours and decorations in numerous countries and regularly collaborating with top class orchestras, conductors, and recital halls across the globe.
Prior to his last tour of Australia in 2016 (performing with orchestras across the country), it had been 20 years since Freire graced our shores with his unrivalled virtuosity. “A deeply moved audience burst into applause and stood up in ovation” The Boston Intelligencer wrote of Freire’s recital in 2016.
Freire's solo recitals are not-to-be-missed. For those who are familiar with Freire and his virtuosic ways and those who are yet to acquaint themselves with the serene majesty of the piano master in concert, here are some fast facts about Freire you may not know.
A child prodigy with perfect pitch, Nelson Freire gave his first concert at the age of four and won the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition at the age of twelve with a performance of Beethoven’s 'Emperor' concerto.
His first piano teachers in Brazil were Lucia Branco a former student of a pupil of prolific 19th-century Hungarian composer/pianist Franz Liszt and her assistant Nise Obino.
Cinema is Freire’s second passion. He is particularly fond of Hitchcock and Fritz Lang as well as films of the 1940s and 50s. “Music is very important in film... Music and the absence of music, too: with Hitchcock for example, there are some scenes with a lot suspense where he completely removes the music. And sometimes, bad music can ruin a film, can’t it?” he says.
In 2003 a documentary was released in Brazil telling the story of Freire's career and his relationship with music, directed by João Moreira Salles. Watch the documentary on YouTube here
Argentine pianist Martha Argerich is a long-time friend and duet partner of Freire for decades. Together they are a musical tour-de-force. Watch Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Renaud Capuçon play Bartók's sonatas via medici.tv
In October 2014 Freire celebrated his 70th birthday with the first release in a Beethoven concerto cycle featuring Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, coupling the 'Emperor' concerto (which won him the the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition at age twelve) with the Sonata Op.111.
Freire doesn't like talking very much, and prefers to play music over the spoken word. “I’m not very talkative. And I don’t like to speak about myself. I find it a little boring...” he admits.
Nelson is a Libra, and as revealed in this article, hypothesises that his star sign (Libra: the sign of love) plays a role in his love for music, film and his teachers.
Nelson Freire opens Melbourne Recital Centre's 2018 Great Performers season on Monday 26 February. Find out more here.