One cannot question the polished and precise ensemble playing that Christian Zacharias elicits from the ORF Radio Orchestra in Mozart’s A major and C minor concertos. Still, period performance mannerisms lurk in the background, such as tapering at cadences, occasionally threadbare string tone, and a seeming reluctance for the prominent winds and brass to play out fully. Nor does pianist Julian Trevelyan’s foursquare efficiency address the solo part’s contrapuntal inferences and frequent vocal orientation.
I’ll cite two examples. Compare the cookie-cutter uniformity of his phrasing following K. 488’s opening ritornello to the detailed interplay between the hands that Zacharias himself brought to the solo part in his recording with David Zinman. And in K. 491’s Larghetto, predictable accents impede Trevelyan’s shaping of lines, whereas Zacharias at the keyboard understands how to articulate their melodic trajectory, especially in his wonderful recording with Gunter Wand conducting. In short, these solidly professional, excellently engineered yet basically “meh” K. 488/491 interpretations face steep catalog competition.