Narek Hakhnazaryan – well on his way

Published 9:34 am Friday, February 15, 2013

Armenian-born cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan has soloed with every major orchestra in the world. In recital, the end pin on his 315-year-old cello has been lodged in wooden floors from the Concertgebouw to Carnegie Hall. He has garnered numerous prizes and awards including a gold medal in the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He is 24 years old. Tryon Concert Association presented Hakhnazaryan with pianist Noreen Polera Feb. 7, 2013 at Tryon Fine Arts Center.

This third concert of TCA’s 58th season was a visceral experience as well as an intellectual challenge. Cesar Franck’s moody and profoundly moving “Sonata in A Major,” which most of us know as a violin piece, was the perfect vehicle for Hakhnazaryan’s beautiful sound and sensitive pacing. He was not derailed by Polera’s alarmingly brash and sometimes colorless playing. Her lightening fast surges from triple pianissimo to triple forte on a single phrase were impressive, but were more NASCAR than nuance and did not serve the piece well.

Chopin’s “Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C Major, Op.3” represented a more thoughtful collaboration. Hakhnazaryan grasps Chopin’s ever present blend of angst and sparkle and used every color imaginable in each section of the cello’s extensive range. His gentle dusting of sequential high pitches in thumb position looked effortless. Each shift was remarkably smooth and clear. Polera’s strength is accuracy and a cool, gearlike ability to mesh cleanly, which is crucial in such difficult works.

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