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Christian Zacharias has been linked to the Lausanne CO for the past 15 years, and as a result clearly enjoys a close rapport with them. These discs are from two complete live concerts, so if one wishes to listen to the concertos in order, there’s some switching of discs (Nos 2, 3 and 4 on DVD1; Nos 1, 5 and Coriolan on DVD2). The first concerto is preceded by Coriolan, and both reveal a well-drilled orchestra, often elegant, but one low in dynamism. Reflecting this is Zacharias’ long-fingered approach, which dampens the sparkle of his articulation. This is a fairly restrained performance, not really the feisty calling card of a young composer making his mark. If the slow movement fares better, helped by a fine sense of ensemble, there is again an undercurrent of plush velvet to the finale, diminishing the music’s intrinsic playfulness.

The second concerto fares better. Indeed both Nos 2 and 3 emerge fresher, with some grit to the finale of No 2. However, the third concerto has other issues: the orchestra is magical in the Adagio, but Zacharias is more matter-of-fact, and the work’s coda is clumsy. It is the fourth that suits Zacharias best, its finale polished and playful. The fifth clearly worked better in the hall itself, judging by the ovation.

Luca de Luigi’s bonus film gives a fascinating window into Zacharias’ life but given the competition in these works, it would be difficult to justify this as a purchase.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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