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.
World premiere recordings
The interpretations from László Paulik using a Jahann Hentschl violin (c.1750) are of an exceptional standard with assured and expressive playing of purity and precision of intonation that at times takes the breath away. In the Allegros he displays astonishing virtuosity of great elegance with clean textures and articulation. I especially loved the heavenly sounds he displays and the high degree of emotional intensity in the contemplative and affecting Adagios. The sensitive support is impeccable displaying a wide spectrum of orchestral colours. Michael Cookson
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.
At the ripe old age of 19 Mozart wrote five violin concertos, and they represent his coming of age as a composer of orchestral music. From here on, it's basically one masterpiece after another. Though not difficult works, technically speaking, they partake in full measure of Mozart's uniquely sensual brand of melody. That means that successful performances must know how to spin out a singing musical line, while at the same time making the most of the rare opportunities for soloistic display.
If this is the future of Mozart performance practice, the future is secure. The combination of period instrument violinist Giuliano Carmignola and modern instrument conductor Claudio Abbado leading the youthful period instrument Orchestra Mozart produces something new under the sun: a hybrid of both approaches that takes the best from both and creates something fresh and shining. Carmignola, the leader of Venice's Teatro La Fenice and one of Italy's best period violinists, has a focused tone, a lively sense of rhythm, and a wonderful feeling for line and color.
Two rarely recorded Haydn violin concertos frame Rachel Podger’s performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat on this disc. Both concertos have only string accompaniment, here provided by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and a discreet harpsichord (the player’s name unaccountably omitted from the list of the orchestra personnel in the accompanying booklet). Rachel Podger has chosen to play both concertos on her own Pesarinius violin (1739) that she feels is most suited to the style of these works and few would disagree with her choice. Her agile and spirited playing in the outer movements is complemented by her pure cantilena in the slow movements. As is to be expected, both works are full of baroque idioms and, while neither presents Haydn at his most inventive, they make an enjoyable pairing.
Some say it's violinist Andrew Manze's tone that makes him distinctive, that there's a sweetness to his non-vibrato swells and a strength to his flexible bowing that make his playing so attractive. Some say it's Manze's phrasing that makes him distinctive, that there's a lyrical quality to his line and a molded quality to his dynamics that make his playing so appealing. Some say it's Manze's interpretation that makes him so distinctive, that there's a combination of fantasy, intensity, and effortless virtuosity that make his performances so persuasive. Some say it's all these things at once and this 2006 disc of the last three of Mozart's five violin concertos is the proof.