> From Moscow with Love: Sergei Nakariakov 8573855582 [CT]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Sergei Nakariakov
From Moscow with Love

Alexander ARUTIUNIAN (b.1920) Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (1950)
Moisei VAINBERG (1919-1996) Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra Op. 94 (1966-67)
Reinhold GLIÈRE (1875-1956) Concerto for Horn and Orchestra Op. 91 (1950)

Sergei Nakariakov, trumpet and flügel horn
Jenaer Philharmonie/Andrey Boreyko
Recorded Volkshaus, Jena 22-26/02/01
TELDEC CLASSICS 8573-85558-2 DDD [62:54]


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It is inevitable, if somewhat unfair, that Sergei Nakariakov is likely to be judged by comparison with that other great modern virtuoso of the trumpet, Håkan Hardenberger. I say unfair because in reality their careers have taken them in very different directions. Whilst Hardenberger has built a whole new contemporary repertoire for the instrument Nakariakov has, by and large, become more synonymous with the lighter and romantic side of the instrument. One of his other recent releases on Teldec, "No Limits", features transcriptions of works by Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Bruch and Massenet. He makes considerable use of the flügel horn as well as the trumpet.

Where Nakariakov really is unique is in his extraordinary rise to fame following his "discovery" at the tender age of twelve. Brass players are generally quite late to mature, yet Nakariakov had a recording contract with Teldec at fifteen and is still only twenty three.

This latest disc couples two original works for the instrument with a transcription for flügel horn (by the soloistís father) of Glièreís 1950 Horn Concerto that some may have heard Nakariakov play at the 2001 Proms. It is the works by Arutiunian and Vainberg that hold the greatest interest however, also drawing the finest playing from the soloist.

Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Alexander Arutiunian combined a career in conducting with composition, being principal conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra for thirty six years until his retirement in 1990. His Trumpet Concerto is a relatively early work, written after a two year period of study in Moscow, and plays continuously whilst falling into three clearly defined sections. Not surprisingly the influence of Shostakovich is evident very early in the work (the orchestral introduction to the first principal trumpet theme at around 1:23 speaks for itself) although the most lasting influence is perhaps that of fellow Armenian Khachaturian. One senses that native folk music is never far away and Arutiunian also favours a relaxed, almost bluesy brand of melody reminiscent of a Shostakovich jazz suite or film score. For all its influences however this is an attractive and highly enjoyable work of infectious spirit. Nakariakov is more than equal to the demands of the work although it is his legato playing in the slower passages that really shines through.

If the Arutiunian brings out the best in Nakariakovís lyrical playing it is the Vainberg that succeeds in exploiting his technical facility to maximum effect. Subtitled Etudes, Episodes and Fanfares respectively, each of the three movements explores a contrasting aspect of the instrument and although the dominant force is Shostakovich, Vainberg consciously weaves a multitude of quotes into the work. This is notably the case in the final movement which is composed entirely of cadenza-like references to famous trumpet solos from Mendelssohnís Wedding March, Bizetís Carmen, Rimsky-Korsakovís The Golden Cockerel and, although the booklet note does not mention it, Stravinskyís Petrouchka. I am sure it is no coincidence that the middle movement is also built on a triplet figure that immediately calls to mind the opening of Mahlerís Fifth Symphony. Once again here it is the lyrical element of the soloistís playing that holds the attention. The opening movement is light-hearted in tone although there is nothing light-hearted about the technical demands on the soloist, Nakariakov overcoming them with deceptive, at times astonishing, ease.

As I previously hinted, the weak link here is the Glière. It is no surprise that for a work composed in 1950 it is astonishingly backward looking. It does not help however that there is little to distinguish it melodically although Nakariakovís performance does succeed in warming the heart somewhat. His mellifluous sound on the flügel horn is delightful but for all of that I have to say that I would rather hear it played on the instrument for which it was intended.

The Jenaer Philharmonie may be an unfamiliar name but they give good support under Andrey Boreyko. With nicely balanced natural sound to round things off this is a fine release which should give much pleasure, extending beyond the realms of those with simply an interest in the instrument itself.

Christopher Thomas

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