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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Nelson Freire: a quite good documentary, a wonderful portrait of a great artist!

10/10
Author: Wilson Cavalcanti from São José dos Campos, Brazil
5 May 2003

João Moreira Salles' "Nelson Freire" is a film-documentary about the great Brazilian pianist, who is certainly among the five great pianists of the world today. Nelson Freire is a quite discreet / shy person and João Salles respected this feature of his personality. During almost two years he followed the pianist around the world to compose a film, made of 31 thematic sections to cover the many aspects of the life of this genius of the piano. A single interview given by Nelson Freire to João Salles in the last days of the filming was conveniently used during all movie to portray the pianist in a remarkable way. In the documentary, Nelson Freire is seen in his house, in the back stage of his concerts and rehearsing alone or with his close friend, the notable pianist Marta Argerich, also among the top world pianists, who he met when he was a teenager. He was also filmed after the concerts, giving autographs and talking - in his special way - with fans. One of the best and full of emotion moments is the reading made of a letter of his father to Freire when he was only 6 years old, in which he mentions the tough decision to move the family from a small city in the country of Brazil to Rio de Janeiro, then the Federal Capital, to allow for the boy - already recognized as prodigy - to continue his piano studies. Also full of emotion is the moment when Nelson Freire makes a touching musical reverence to the legendary (Brazilian) pianist Guiomar Novaes, who used to call him as the "little Rubinstein". She enters the movie when Nelson Freire, at home, plays one of his recordings of a melody from Christoph Willibald Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice". Which is also played by him as a "bis" of one of his recitals. Some remarkable and quite interesting for the music fans are the sequences of rehearsals with Martha Argerich and with the St Petesburg orchestra and those of Nelson Freire "polishing" a difficult part of Brahms' second piano concerto. There is also room for humor in the documentary. Besides his unique and hilarious sequence in an interview to a French TV, Nelson Freire is caught in a very funny "fight" with a specific piano Steinway, hours before a recital. Then, he seems to treat the piano like a living creature and mentions that "this piano does not like me, although I have not done anything to it." Indeed, João Salles managed to make a quite good and, mostly, a touching movie about a great artist, respecting Nelson Freire's personality, somehow introspective. Do not expect a film strictly about Nelson Freire's life. This is a film about an artist, about life, about music. It is a film for those who enjoy a good documentary; however, it is a "must", a wonderful picture especially for those who also enjoy good music.

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