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Reviews: Mozart: Piano Concertos Vol. 8 - Christian Zacharias

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Site review by Polly Nomial April 3, 2012
Performance:   Sonics:  
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. 2 - 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!

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