Midem Classique Award winner Christian Zacharias continues his survey of Mozart Piano Concertos as both performer & conductor. Featuring arguably 1 of the most famous, the A Major. MDG’s complete recording of Mozart’s piano compositions with Christian Zacharias in the double role as pianist & conductor of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra continues with KV 488, certainly the most-performed piano concerto by the great Salzburg composer, complemented here by KV 246 & KV 175, Mozart’s very 1st piano concerto.
This volume in the series seems to have taken a step up, with playing which previously might have been a little cosy now edgier & with more contrast in light & shade. The overall ensemble is excellent, & these are very good Mozart concerto interpretations indeed. Sound quality is up to MDG’s usual high standard, with a well-scaled ambience in Mch, & the 2+2+2 channel setup with height channels works fine in my 5.1 setup, despite my not reassigning the centre & sub speaker.
In this 3rd volume, Zacharias’ Mozart becomes essential, if not quintessential, in a universe for piano & concerto that is fascinating. The Concerto for Piano & Orchestra #17 in G major KV 453 dates from 1784, & inspired the musician Alfred Einstein to say: “In a friendly key are hidden many mysterious smiles & painful wounds – words cannot be found to describe the permanent irisation of feelings in the 1st movement, the passionate interiority of the 2nd.”
This disc is part of a Mozart concerto cycle being issued by German pianist Christian Zacharias, conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. Several of the discs have been exceptional, and the musicianship here maintains the high level of the earlier releases in the series. The interpretations, however, are a bit unorthodox, so sample well and consider. The audiophile sound from the MDG label continues to be an attraction in itself; the sonics of Lausanne's moderate-sized and heavily acoustically tweaked Salle Métropole concert hall have awesome clarity and depth.
Will listeners raised on virtuoso performances of Mozart’s piano concertos be able to make room in the hearts for Christian Zacharias’ recordings with the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne? It depends on how willing they are to forego the pleasures of virtuosity for the pleasures music-making. This is not to say that Zacharias isn’t a virtuoso pianist. As his 20 years of recordings make very clear, he has talents & abilities far beyond those of most mortal pianists.
Not just because this disk is the only 1 in the series without a review on this site, but also because it concerns a re-issue in SACD format, I thought it might be useful to share my views with the Super Audio community. To start with the end: My verdict is a wholehearted positive 1 in both artistic & technical sense.
Mozart, who composed 21 piano concerti, can be regarded as the “inventor” of the popular piano concerto. Although J.S. Bach and his son had written numerous concerti for harpsichord or fortepiano and orchestra before him, Mozart’s enormous input to the genre is mostly due to his concerti being regarded as ‘popular music’ by his contemporaries: to be enjoyed and replaced quickly by newer works. For this series on four DVDs, the most influential, the most artistically challenging and the most popular piano concerti have been selected to be performed by the best Mozart interpreters of our time. The last volume features pianists Christian Zacharias, Malcolm Frager, Deszö Ránki and Aleksandar Madzar performing the piano concerti Nos. 5, 8, 17 & 27. The performances on this DVD were shot in highly attractive historical venues – at the Teatro Scientifico del Bibiena in Mantua, in the 18th century Schwetzingen Palace and in the Grosse Galerie at Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna – capturing the atmosphere of Mozart’s lifetime.
Mozart, who composed 21 piano concerti, can be regarded as the “inventor” of the popular piano concerto. Although J.S. Bach and his son had written numerous concerti for harpsichord or fortepiano and orchestra before him, Mozart’s enormous input to the genre is mostly due to his concerti being regarded as ‘popular music’ by his contemporaries: to be enjoyed and quickly replaced by newer works. For this series on four DVDs, the most influential, the most artistically challenging and the most popular piano concerti have been selected to be performed by the best Mozart interpreters of our time. Volume III features pianists Radu Lupu, Christian Zacharias and Ivan Klánský performing Mozart’s piano concerti Nos. 6. 19 and 20 in highly attractive venues – at the Rococo Schwetzingen Palace in the Southwest of Germany, the reconstructed Sophiensaal in Munich and the Rittersaal of Palais Waldstein in Prague.
Six piano concertos in a mere twelve months: in no other year was Mozart as productive in this genre as he was in 1784. Christian Zacharias and his Lausanne Chamber Orchestra have taken considerably more time with their interpretations of Mozart’s piano concertos – and with sensational results. This complete recording even now promises to occupy one of the top ranks on international lists: Zacharias is able perfectly and seamlessly to transfer his inimitable touch and sound culture to the orchestra.
…Zacharias began recording for EMI the following year, and would, by 1997, make over 40 albums for the label, covering a broad range of repertory, including Mozart (complete concertos and sonatas), Beethoven (complete concertos), Scarlatti, Schubert, Schumann, and many others. Despite great success throughout the 1980s and early '90s in his keyboard career, Zacharias decided to take up conducting in 1992. His debut was in Geneva with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande…