The very first phrase of Mozart's Sonata in A, K. 331, served notice that Friday night's piano recital by Nelson Freire would provide an extraordinary conclusion to the week-long series of concerts presented in Tawes Theatre by the University of Maryland International Piano Festival. Continuing with works by Brahms, Chopin, Villa-Lobos and Albe'niz, Freire conducted a virtual master class in interpretation and control with an eloquence words could never achieve.
Of the numerous elements that constitute Freire's mastery of his instrument and his repertoire, three were dominant: a broad range of sonority that Freire controlled at will, an uncanny sense of timing in the buildup and release of rhythmic tension, and an unfailing ability to make the piano sing.
Freire's Mozart was articulate and elegant, while Brahms' Sonata No. 2 was energetic and impassioned -- but never forced. Lyricism matched technical brilliance in providing Chopin's F Minor Fantasy, Three Ecossaises and the B-flat Minor Scherzo with an appropriate mixture of poetry and excitement. The charm and delicacy of "A Lenda Do Caboclo" and "A Tres Marias" by Villa-Lobos and the supple rhythms and bright colors of two movements from "Iberia" by Albe'niz confirmed this Brazilian artist's seemingly limitless talents.