26 March 2011

Musicians: Sergey Khachatryan

Sometimes musicians make a lot of noise while playing music. You have quite a few conductors that sort of grunt (like Jaap van Zweden and Semyon Bychkov) and musicians that seem to involuntarily make some sort of noise (Pieter Wispelwey is the first that comes to mind). Last night I went to De Doelen in Rotterdam to see the always amazing Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra play works by Stravinsky (Petrushka), Shostakovich (First Violin Concerto) and R. Strauss (Till Eulenspiegel). The Shostakovich work was played by Sergey Khachatryan. And Khachatryan sniffed quite a lot, rather loudly. You would think that these kind of sounds are irritating, and sometimes they are, but this time it seemed so incredibly unimportant after a few minutes. Because I have never seen or heard anyone play as beautifully as Khachatryan, even though he's only 25 years old.

Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto is already an intense and moving piece, after Bartók's Second Violin Concerto it's probably my favourite in the genre, it has everything, from rhythmical, catchy bits, to sounds that make you want to cry your eyes out. The DSCH motif also makes it's appearance in the second movement, which always makes me happy. The problem for me is that when I love a work, like this violin concerto, I will listen to it over and over again and know every single note. So when you go see a live performance, there's a definite possibility of being dissapointed, because I have a certain version in my head. Fortunately, I've not often been dissapointed, and sometimes I've even been completely blown away because a performer or orchestra plays the work even better than what I thought it should be like. And this was certainly the case yesterday.

Sergey Khachatryan (b. 1985) is an Armenian violinist and when he was 15 he actually won first prize at the International Sibelius Violin Competition, being the youngest prize winner ever. There's always a lot of young violinists about that can play everything perfectly, but I think it's quite rare for someone so young to be able to put so much emotion and idiosyncracy into playing. Not only can he play the loud and fast bits with conviction, there is also such nuance and beauty when he plays slower movements. Fortunately for me and you, there are two videos on youtube of him playing Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto. Enjoy:


  1. I agree with you about the sniffing. I noticed it at first but then I was so transported by his performance that I completely forgot about it and just enjoyed the music and his performance.

    Thanks for those videos :D

  2. I'm so glad you liked the videos, Allis! He plays so beautiful, doesn't he?

  3. Yea, I love Shostakovich =)