Mozart: Piano Concertos, Vol. 7 / Christian Zacharias, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra

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MOZART Piano Concertos: Nos. 6, 13, 16 Christian Zacharias (pn, cond); Lausanne Co MDG GOLD 1667 (SACD: 67:07)

This is Volume 7 in what is apparently going to be a complete set of the Mozart piano concertos by Christian Zacharias. I asked to review it because I was so impressed by his performances of the five Beethoven concertos with Armin Jordan conducting (Cascavelle 3118), in which Zacharias’s enlivened inflections of phrase and rhythmic acuity were combined with original and highly imaginative cadenzas that acted within the concertos like mini-fantasias.

I am not at all disappointed by his solo playing here, which is crisp yet lighter in tone than his Beethoven, which is wholly appropriate for Mozart. The problem, to me, is his conducting and the overall performance and sound quality of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. Its playing is “soft” both in phrasing and attack, coming across almost as background or elevator music. This was the kind of Mozart sound in vogue during the late 1970s and early ’80s, before the historically informed crowd moved in to show us that such earlier conductors as Toscanini, Furtwängler, Doráti, and Markevitch had it right, that unlike Haydn, whose music sounds good at a slightly relaxed pace and with a wide dynamic range, Mozart tends toward sameness and boredom when given that approach. Mozart needs to be performed with a combination of emotional commitment and sharply etched contours, as in the performances of Harnoncourt, Norrington, Pinnock, and others. In the case of the piano concertos, one can scarcely imagine or achieve finer performances than those of the entire series recorded by fortepianist Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna on Canal Grande 8016.

Of course, there are listeners who are much in favor of this particular style of Mozart performance. I myself was one of them in the early 1980s, when I became a fan of Murray Perahia’s then-groundbreaking series of Mozart concertos. For them, then, this disc and its six other counterparts issued so far will make quite satisfying listening. The hybrid multichannel sound is warm and round, which again de-emphasizes the music’s edge.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 9401667-6

  • UPC: 760623166766

  • Label: MDG

  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Conductor: Christian Zacharias

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Lausanne Chamber Orchestra

  • Performer: Christian Zacharias