March 16, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 11
search only SGN online
Sunday, May 31, 2020



World-famous pianist excels as conductor
World-famous pianist excels as conductor
by Rod Parke - SGN A&E Writer

Christian Zacharias is known primarily as a fine pianist, but in this concert at Benaroya Hall, he impressed me even more in his conducting of Mozart.

The evening began with Mozart's 'Piano Concerto No. 22.' The piano sat so that the pianist's back was to the audience because he was conducting as well as playing. The performance was entirely satisfying except for some lack of clarity between the sounds of the small orchestra and the piano. Even with the piano's top entirely removed, it could not always be heard in the wash of orchestral sound.

Of special brilliance was the playing of the woodwinds, particularly that of bassoonist Seth Krimsky, whose fullness of tone gave warmth to the whole picture. The elegance of Mozart's skillful use of each orchestral choir made the piano almost of lesser interest. However, Zacharias' playing commanded our attention with his lively tempi and shining tone. During the cadenza of the first movement, a string quartet gave welcome added color.

With his back still to the audience, Zacharias followed the concerto with a solo piece, Schubert's "'Deutsche Tanze' for solo piano." This work came off as a bit of a trifle, coming as it did after such a grand concerto. But it was played because of what was to follow the intermission, namely Anton Webern's arrangement of the same piece for orchestra. The latter was of course of a totally different character from the solo piano by Schubert. In fact, it sounded more like Brahms than Schubert&much slower and more romantic.

The chief delight of the program came last: Mozart's 'Symphony No. 36 in C major, "Linz."' Having many times listened to Bruno Walter's recorded rehearsal of this symphony, I know its every note and am thus especially critical of how conductors treat it. Let me say that none has ever pleased me more than did Christian Zacharias. The slightly muddied sound of the earlier concerto was totally gone. Elegant phrasing, infectious buoyancy, superb articulation and utterly clear balances, along with perfect tempi, made this a sheer delight from beginning to end. Again, the woodwinds excelled. Also impressive was how well timpanist Michael Crusoe and trumpeters David Gordon and Richard Pressley kept their instruments in perfect balance with everyone else.

Seattle is blessed each year with excellent guest conductors. Christian Zacharias added yet more luster to that list and reminded us of what we would otherwise miss.

Reviewer Rod Parke can be reached at

International Readers
We want to learn about you and have you tell us about Gay Life where you live.

read the SGN in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish

bringing you the SGN online
every week!

Seattle Gay Blog
post your own information on
Seattle Gay Blog

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2006