Now in his mid-fifties, Christian Zacharias has successfully recorded much of the central repertoire, German and Austrian. His Mozart and Beethoven have been especially well received. Nonetheless, before listening to this disc, I have not heard him playing, or heard of him playing, Chopin. Perhaps I have missed something. Certainly he can play Chopin beautifully, for this is a very attractive recording, notable for the warmth and naturalness of its sound, for Zacharias’s unaffected phrasing and sweet tone, and for the subtlety of his interactions with the chamber orchestra he leads. Zacharias never overacts. I have heard (though rarely) the great Larghetto of the First Concerto played in a more heart-wrenching style, but Zacharias has a wayRead more of making the whole cohere convincingly that seems just as effective. His is a sunny, patrician style. He’s careful with detail and yet seems to dance along with his orchestra in the Rondo, for instance, of the First Concerto. He can be grand, as in his entrance to the first movement of the Second Concerto, but even here he plays with a kind of noble restraint that fits these works. He must be an excellent conductor as well: the strings seem to breathe with him.
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