Can there be a new and exciting way to present these popular piano concertos, one that is not precious, bombastic, or utterly earthshaking? I believe there is. If Wilhelm Kempff and Arthur Schnabel can do it, so can some of today's Young Turks. Now we have the winning ensembles of Zacharias and Vonk, Zacharias and Masur.
I gave this set the Emperor Concerto test. If the performance can tell me something new about this near-warhorse, then you should buy it. Happy to report, it did. Zacharias performs this and the other four concertos with restraint when needed, tenderness and furor when indicated, and subtlety above the call of duty. In the first movement of the Emperor, for example, he respects Beethoven's abrupt and persnickety changes in volume and tempo, by not drawing attention to them. Hampered by the standard issue Steinway, he manages to leap along with conductors Vonk and Masur, never grandstanding, simply doing the work he is paid to and doing it well.
As an extra bonus, EMI has included the Triple Concerto, which is also performed with a furious range of feeling. Even Heinrich Schiff, God bless him, reins in his muscles and presents cello playing the finest since his Bach Cello suites. This is a disc you'll want to own and show off to your friends.
Copyright © 1996, Peter Bates