This homage to the late Nelson Freire who died about a year ago,, includes gems that report Freire’s light touch, delicacy, and inviting warmth – Gluck/Sgambati, Bach/Hess (Jesu), Beethoven, Debussy and Villa-Lobos; the first disc also including Freire’s distinguished embrace of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto (cadenzas by Saint-Saëns) and Richard Strauss’s Burleske, but maybe the conducting of, respectively, Uri Segal and Zoltan Pesko, doesn’t quite match the artistry of the soloist.

No such niggles on CD2: an explosive and (slow movement) hypnotic account of Bartók’s First Piano Concerto, conducted uncompromisingly by Michael Gielen, in which Freire displays the necessary percussive/edgy stance while retaining shape and expression; and a magnificent version of Brahms’s Second, Horst Stein at the helm, Freire addressing the thickets of notes (too many, in Alfred Brendel’s opinion) in the first two movements with adrenalin-fuelled hands and passionate declamation – never coarse though –, then finding tenderness in the cello-led slow movement, and ultimately delighting with springy rhythms in the Finale, given time to breathe and locate, speedily joyful come the conclusion (I was smiling). Altogether special is Brahms’s sublime A-major Intermezzo (Opus 118/2) with which Freire bids us farewell unaffectedly if poignantly (I was tearful). Decca 485 3136 (2 CDs).

Further details here: