Decca Classics is proud to announce Nelson Freire – Memories: The Unreleased Recordings 1970-2019. The release pays tribute to the great Brazilian pianist, who passed away on 1 November 2021 and would have been 78 this October. It includes previously unreleased studio recordings and broadcast performances spanning concertos from Beethoven to Bartok. 

Decca Classics Label Director and Nelson Freire’s long time recording producer, Dominic Fyfe, says, 

“We lost Nelson too early. He still had many records to make. This two-disc set ‘Memories’ will hopefully serve as both a consolation and celebration. Searching through notes made at past sessions I discovered a handful of tracks which had never been released plus Nelson’s own commentary on the radio broadcasts included here. The recordings span almost five decades and salute this wonderful artist and friend. He was one of the Greats and his discography on Decca will forever be a jewel in our crown”

(Read Dominic Fyfe’s booklet note on Nelson Freire’s recording process here.) 

Listeners will be able to hear unreleased recordings of Freire made in Berlin in 2014 of Bach, Gluck and Beethoven, including the Andante favori – his only recording of this piece. These are coupled with broadcast performances given by Freire between 1970 and 1985 which were personal favourites of his: Beethoven’s 4th with the Saint-Saens cadenzas and a Brahms 2, conducted by Horst Stein, of which Nelson said, “this is quite special”. Rarities include a Bartok 1 from 1970, the year in which he debuted the piece, and the only performance he ever gave of Richard Strauss’ Burleske. To complete the collection, pieces by Beethoven, Brahms, Villa-Lobos and Debussy, previously only ever released as digital bonus tracks, are presented here on CD for the first time. 

Memories is released digitally on Decca Classics on 14 October and on CD on 28 October 2022.

Born in Boa Esperança in the state of Minas Gerais, Nelson Freire gave his first public performance at the age of five performing 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 appeared at virtually every important musical centre, in recital and working with countless distinguished conductors and orchestras. As a recording artist, he was recognized in Phillips and included in its historic series Great Pianists of the 20th Century, released in 1999, before signing exclusively to Decca in 2001 where he amassed a critically acclaimed 15-album discography. His collaborations with his beloved friend Martha Argerich are legendary. In March 2007, Nelson Freire was appointed a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the French government and in January 2011 he was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion de’Honneur, the French government’s highest award to a foreigner. 


* Radio Broadcasts (exclusive licence, first commercial release) 

** First CD release 


‘The Berlin Sessions, 2014’ (Track 1-3) 

1.         **Gluck arr. Sgambati: Mélodie (Dance of the Blessed Spirits)  from Orpheus ed Euridice 

2.         **J.S. Bach arr. Hess: Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring 

3.         **Beethoven: Andante favori in F, WoO 57 

4-6.          *Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.4 in G major, Op.58 (Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR/Uri Segal) – SWR, 6 October 1972 

7. **Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119 No.11 – Andante, ma non troppo 

8. *R. Strauss: Burleske für Klavier und Orchester dMoll, AV 85 (SWF-Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden/Zoltan Pesko) – SWF, 10 December 1985 

9. **Debussy: La Plus Que Lente 

10. **Villa-Lobos: Preludio (Introdução) (No. 1 from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4) 


1-3. *Bartók: Piano Concerto No.1 (Sz.83, BB91) (Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Michael Gielen) – Hessischer Rundfunk, 22-23 October 1970 

4-7. *Brahms: Piano Concerto No.2 in B-flat major, Op.83 (Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Horst Stein) – Hessicher Rundfunk, 28 March – 1 April 1977 

8. **Brahms: Intermezzo, Op.118 No.2 in A major