20 Nocturnes Nelson Freire - Decca 478 2182 (two discs)

Playing a Steinway, Nelson Freire completed these mid-Dec ’09 recordings in the as yet unfamiliar acoustic of The Friary, Liverpool. He made his debut in the Chopin Preludes, aged 28 (CBS, 1972). ‘A hurricane of pianistic power’ then suggested the Saturday Review. The words that spring to mind now are ‘pianistic wisdom’ – Freire unfalteringly negotiates the often tortuous, enigmatically conceived paths of the Nocturnes, balancing their elements and attuned to the contrasts between them. The spirit of the dance is rarely far away, even when the mood is melancholic. The CD mastering is no less sensitive in spacing these works. Could the bicentenary year yield anything finer?

Sound Quality: 95%