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.”
Guiomar Novaes' life story has been the stuff of legend in the classical world for decades and this CD is clear evidence why none other than Claude Debussy himself helped single her out for greatness as a teenage prodigy. Recorded when she was in her 50's, she's absolutely stupendous, pulling off difficult passage after passage with fabulous effortlessness, her trademark. But forget the 'feminine piano' tag that has been given to her at times, this CD shows she can bring on the 'thunder and lightning' whenever necessary. Thanks to Vox Box Legends for this magnificent digitally mastered 2 CD set, the wonderful sound, and very detailed, extensive liner notes that put most other liner notes to shame.
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.
The Quartet’s debut recording features master Mozartian Gottlieb Wallisch in a stunning performance of his fellow Austrian’s own rarely-heard chamber orchestrations in ‘Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 12, 13 & 14’. In contrast to the orchestral version the ensemble strikingly enhances the intricacies of the string writing and encourages immediate interaction among the five musicians.
Ronald Brautigam, with the congenial support of Die Kölner Akademie, under Michael Alexander Willens, here performs Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 24 and 25, both composed in 1786. The C major concerto is in fact one of the most expansive of all classical piano concertos, rivalling Beethoven’s fifth concerto. Their grandeur immediately made them popular fare in the concert hall – Mendelssohn, for instance, had No.24 in his repertoire through the 1820s and 1830s.
Jarrett brings to his Mozart repertoire steadiness of interpretation and relaxation that may surprise listeners who know him mainly for the adventurousness and quirks of his celebrated marathon solo recordings. A jazz pianist performing classical music might be expected to take rubato liberties. Jarrett does not. His reading of the magnificent pre-Romantic D-minor concerto No. 20, K. 466, employs effective dynamics without extremes in the direction of Arthur Rubenstein's daring and exuberance in the rondo, Mitsuko Uchida's mystique behind the beat in the romance movement or Clara Haskil's blurred articulation at the piano entry in the allegro.