Mozart: Piano Concertos, Vol 8 - Zacharias
MDG Gold 940 1737-6
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor KV 491, Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major KV 503
Christian Zacharias (piano, conductor)
Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne
Both concertos on this volume are from 1786: Mozart composed KV 491 in C minor in great haste on 24 March while he was working on the opera Figaro, and KV 503 in C major followed on 4 December while he was writing the Prague Symphony. Christian Zacharias and his Lausanne Chamber Orchestra have allowed themselves considerably more time – and with splendid results. This complete recording already promises to claim one of the top places on the international charts; after all, Zacharias again and again effortlessly succeeds in conveying his inimitable interpretive culture to the orchestra.
The premiere of the C minor concerto with its lavish wind parts was highly successful and held its surprises in store for the members of the audience: the masterful symphonic intertwining of the solo and orchestral parts and the passionate tone with which the work by far transcends the familiar traditions. Its first hearers called for the repetition of the slow movement distinguished by captivating wind passages.
In KV 503 the virtuoso element again predominates, even though Mozart here too designs the intricate textures with bravura and produces most highly surprising harmonic and tonal nuances. And this at a time when his pecuniary soar went into the crash mode. He moved into more economical lodgings and worked like a madman.
This SACD also holds a special sound feature in store. KV 503 was one of the first recordings that MDG and Zacharias produced in the Metropol in Lausanne prior to its restoration and released as a DVD Audio. In this series it now appears for the first time (newly mixed) as a SACD and offers listeners the opportunity for a fascinating musical and audiophile comparison.
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Review by John Broggio - April 4, 2012
A tale of two recordings.
The first is the Concerto No. 24 in C minor and in keeping with the rest of the cycle that has preceded this issue, Zacharias and his Lausanne CO are on fine form with an eye to HIP practices (not there is a thin string toned chord in sight!) The first movement is well played (albeit a little "straight" compared to the superb Mozart: Piano Concertos, Vol 02 - Brautigam, Willens) except in the cadenza - presumably Zacharias' own - where he is joined by a woodwind accompaniment; very interesting and works well. The slow movement is taken noticeably slower than Brautigam but still flows nicely. The finale is also well judged although some of the wind phrasing may be regarded as clipped in the earlier variations. The split violins help naturally bring out details not normally heard with a modern orchestra - and the details are magnificently played.
The Concerto No. 25 in C major was recorded before the rest of the cycle so far issued on SACD in 1999. It is immediately that this is a different time - the recording sounds different acoustically even though it is the same venue. And the approach of Zacharias & his orchestra are vastly different - think Barenboim & ECO from the 1960's. This is unashamedly big band Mozart and stylistically, no matter how much may (dis)approve of HIP practices, one would expect in a cycle for the approach to be broadly consistent. All that entails is duly delivered - grand, majestic and rich. Perhaps not the Mozart that we'd expect (hope for?) these days but unquestionably well executed. The stylistic shift was the only thing that grated with me and it is a shame that this was not re-recorded for this is surely not remotely like any performance that Zacharias would give today.
The recorded sounds are very distinct with the earlier account fuller and much closer without ever revealing intrusive aspects of the playing; some details though are inevitably lost.
Recommended with reservations - NB for the performance marks, both a supreme examples of their type but this contains two very different types of Mozart playing!
Copyright © 2012 John Broggio and HRAudio.net
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