Piano Concerto No.12 in A, K414
Piano Concerto No.21 in C, K467
Piano Concerto No.23 in A, K488
Fazil Say (piano)

Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Howard Griffiths

Recorded July 2004, Neumünster Church, Zurich
CD No: NAÏVE V 4992
Duration: 74 minutes
Reviewed: November 2004
These lively and sparkling performances give much pleasure. The playing of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra is expressive and buoyant, Howard Griffiths eliciting some well-balanced and detailed work from the players. Some niceties of ‘authentic’ performance are attended to, without being dogmatic, and the orchestral response is colourful and expressive, Griffiths bringing out contrasts of dynamics and sonority with purpose and joy; antiphonal violins aid orchestral dialogue and the woodwind playing has uninhibited character.
Fazil Say’s contribution is as a team player whose phrasing, varied touch and crisp articulation is individual and illuminating of the music. Some listeners will not care for Say’s vocalising, and his pedalling is a little inconsistent and some staccato notes are rather stabbed at. His own cadenza for the first movement of the C major concerto is certainly imaginative, maybe a tad discursive, but it certainly leaps off the page in brilliant, improvisatory style. The now-famous slow movement of the work, as used in “Elvira Madigan”, flows delightfully.
The charms of the early A major concerto are wittily dispatched in the outer movements and with feeling in the Andante, while the later concerto in the same key, just as intimate but altogether more searching, is played with a wealth of responses that make the music seem new-minted.
Just occasionally there is the suggestion that Say has many ideas but not enough to say, but there’s also a freshness of response, from all concerned, that exhibits chamber music qualities, and lightness and dexterity, to memorable effect. Say himself impresses without domineering, and the recording is lucid and warm.


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