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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concertos, Volume 2: No. 9 in E flat, K271, 'Jeunehomme' (1777) [31'55]; No. 11 in F, K413/387a (1782/3) [21'17]
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra/Christian Zacharias (piano).
Rec. Métropole, Lausanne, 18-20 June 2004 (K271); 8-9 Jan 2003 (K413/387a). DDD

Christian Zacharias most recently came my way as part of a Mozart Concerto DVD he played No. 6: review . There, as here, his was a remarkably musically rendered Mozart. There, the Mozart was sprinkled with magic, a magic largely missing here, especially in the 'Jeunehomme'. Zacharias over-pedals the piano 'answer' in the opening bars and, after a very stylish orchestral tutti, almost lazily begins the trill that announces the piano's return. From then on, everything is very accurate, but perhaps a bit too comfortable, while phrasing verges on the merely 'pretty'.

The deep emotions of the slow movement belie the work's date. A pity Zacharias rather sits on the surface of these emotions, missing the magic. Similarly the sense of fun that characterises the finale is almost but not quite there; perhaps the studio conditions inhibiting this?. The Menuet section is nicely suave, though.

Much better is the account of the Eleventh Concerto. The orchestra is magnificently gallant for the orchestral exposition, and it is clear from this and Zacharias's own playing that he takes the work very seriously as a masterpiece; and rightly so. The cadenza is excellent, and the slow movement is much better than its cousin was in No. 9. Zacharias's belief is clear as he invites us to enter a comfortably twilit world. The finale is a 'Tempo di Menuetto', calm and restrained. Zacharias and his Lausanne players respond with the utmost sensitivity.

A mixed reception, then. If you want a No. 11 - and there is no reason why you shouldn't as a piece it is pure gold - Zacharias supplies plenty of delights.

Colin Clarke

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