Described by the Washington Post as “a seasoned phenomenon”, Narek Hakhnazaryan was propelled on to the international scene when he won the Cello First Prize and Gold Medal at the 2011 XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition. Throughout the competition, Hakhnazaryan impressed a distinguished jury which included Sir Clive Gillinson, Mario Brunello, David Geringas, Ralph Kirschbaum, Lynn Harrell and Krzysztof Penderecki.
In the 2011/12 season Hakhnazaryan made a number of high level debuts, including with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Hall in London conducted by Valery Gergiev, where he was described by the Guardian as “the brightest star of the evening… a cellist of real maturity whose performance of the Variations on a Rococo Theme was characterful and well-judged”. Elsewhere he played with the Chicago Symphony/Koopman, Tonkünstler Orchestra/Fedoseyev, Verdi Orchestra Milan/Xian Zhang; at the Baden Baden Festival with the Mariinsky Orchestra/Gergiev; and in chamber and duo recitals he performed in Rome, at the Salle Pleyel (Paris), where he was immediately re-invited, and at the Tivoli, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, City of London and Verbier Festivals.
In the 2012/13 season, Hakhnazaryan has made his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic with Gergiev at the Gergiev Festival, where he performed the Dutilleux Concerto, and has also made debuts with the London Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Milan, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and Dallas Symphony, and looks forward to playing with Seoul Philharmonic. In recital he has made debut performances at the Berlin Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boston and the Vancouver Recital Series.
Narek Hakhnazaryan was born in 1988 in Yerevan, Armenia, into a family of musicians: his father was a violinist and his mother a pianist. Hakhnazaryan’s early studies were at the Sayat-Nova School of Music in Yerevan with Zareh Sarkisyan and subsequently at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexey Seleznyov. Hakhnazaryan has received scholarships from the Rostropovich Russian Performing Arts Fund, and his prizes include First Prize in the 2006 Aram Khachaturian International Competition in Armenia and First Place in the 2006 Johansen International Competition for Young String Players. Working with Lawrence Lesser, he received an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2011.
As First Prize winner in the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Hakhnazaryan made his debut in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, sponsored by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation Prize, and in Washington, DC. In May 2012, Hakhnazaryan gave his New York concerto debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall as part of the Young Concert Artists gala with the Orchestra of St Luke’s.
Narek Hakhnazaryan plays a 1698 David Tecchler cello, on loan from Valentine Saarmaa, granddaughter of the renowned luthier Jacques Francais, and a bow made by Benoit Rolland, one of leading contemporary bow makers in the world.
Narek Hakhnazaryan is represented by Intermusica.
2012/13 biography / 475 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Eindhoven Muziekgebouw / Recital with Marianna Shirinyan
“Narek Hakhnazaryan, winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition, proved himself to be an excellent craftsman. No virtuosity is too much, and he plays with great ease and flexibility, with a beautiful full tone across all dynamic levels. Pianist Marianna Shrinyan is of the same musical calibre. Their interplay is exciting and possessed… A thrilling virtuosity featured in the works of Tchakovsky, Khodoyan, Bronner and Rostropovich. The Debussy Sonata sounded sublime and exquisite in tone. The Shostakovich Sonata was full of energy and fascinatingly sculpted; the silence of some phrases was ‘deafening’. What technical prowess, and what a musical force majeure. Mature mastery was also witnessed in the encore – Vocalise by Rachmaninoff. Straight from the heart to the hearts of the listeners. Brilliant!”
Cornélie Hoendervanger, Eindhovens Dagblad, February 2013
Vancouver Recital Society / Franck, Khudoyan, Bronner & Tchaikovsky
"Haknazaryan showed himself an aristocrat of the cello: all the superlative technical skills you’d expect, but with a sensitive, beguiling feeling for both style and content.
Perhaps most telling was his work with co-recitalist Noreen Polera in Franck’s Sonata. Thickly conceived and ultra-lush in the post-Wagner mode, it is all too often rendered as flat-out melodrama. Here the duo maintained a touching measure of elegant French restraint; rigorously logical pacing made this old warhorse sound fresh and compelling. It was a performance to treasure.
Will Haknazaryan be the 21st century heir of the great Mstislav Rostropovich? Given playing this impressive, I wouldn’t be surprised."
Vancouver Sun, February 2013
Gardner Museum Boston / Recital with Noreen Polera
“Hakhnazaryan technically has it all: fabulous bow technique, beautiful vibrato, mastery of ponticello and every other cello device, and ability to play super-fast, brilliantly. But what really distinguishes his playing is its effect on the listener. There is an immediate connection between his cello playing and those lucky enough to be in the audience. It’s that personal connection, that passion and musical charisma, that not only wins competitions, but people’s hearts as well.”
The Boston Musical Intelligencer, October 2012
City of London Festival / Recital with Denis Kozhukhin / Ysaÿe & Franck
“Hakhnazaryan flings himself into everything he plays, eyes closed in romantic abandon. This made for something absolutely riveting in Eugene Ysaÿe’s solo sonata of 1924. Its wayward romanticism, which could seem puzzling in a more cool, objective approach, carried total conviction through the sheer intensity of each gesture. The perilously high, dying-away ending was a marvel of musicality and technique combined.”
Daily Telegraph, July 2012
“Hakhnazaryan brought out the lyricism of the piece [Ysaÿe’s unaccompanied Cello Sonata], while negotiating all the technical challenges (including copious double-stops) with ease. Hakhnazaryan has a flawless technique... Hakhnazaryan especially excelled in the light-hearted moments, and this was brilliantly demonstrated in the encore – the cello version of Paganini’s Variations on One String on a Theme from “Moses”. He performed it with dazzling virtuosity but without a hint of flashiness – every variation was played with character and it was utterly delightful.”
Bach Track, July 2012
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / cond. Ton Koopman / Chicago Symphony Center / Haydn Cello Concerto No.2 in D major
“Although Haydn wrote two cello concerti, the piece performed on Saturday only became “Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major” in 1961, after the discovery of his earlier work. Narek Hakhnazaryan, who studied under Rostropovich, played the piece—which is less showy, though more technically rigorous than its predecessor—with assured grace, after Thursday and Friday night performances by Yo-Yo Ma, perhaps the hardest cellist to follow since the Armenian’s teacher passed away in 2007. If Ma’s “romantic indulgences” (as the Tribune judged them) were an anachronism on Thursday and Friday, Hakhnazaryan’s performance Saturday was appropriately staid, and the audience thanked him with an ovation that he took with a single, entirely pizzicato encore.”
The Chicago Maroon, May 2012
Piatigorsky International Cello Festival / Bovard Auditorium Los Angeles
Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor
"[Hakhnazaryan] got a near rock star ovation from an audience of screaming cellists in Bovard.... His command of the instrument is extraordinary, and he is clearly going places. He is an assured, flamboyant, old-school Romantic."
Los Angeles Times, March 2012
The Mansion at Strathmore, North Bethesda, Maryland USA / Franck, Chopin & Shostakovich
“Hakhnazaryan’s talent was obvious from the opening phrase of Franck’s late Sonata. Whether pianissimo or triple forte, his bow was ever emphatic, and his emotive power and subjective intensity captured the listener immediately, never letting go.
Hakhnazaryan’s two blazing encores weren’t enough for the audience, who clamored for more."
Washington Post, February 2012
Boston Chamber Music Society / Schumann Fantasiestücke, Op.73
“Why Hakhnazaryan is so highly touted became clear during his performance of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73, on the program’s first half. He gets a radiant sound from his instrument, phrases naturally, and has superb bow control. Perhaps the most impressive thing was that he made it seem so fluid and effortless, even in the vigorous third piece. Here is a musician on the fast track, and deservedly so.”
Boston Globe, October 2011
London Symphony Orchestra / cond. Valery Gergiev / Barbican / Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme
“The brightest star of the evening was the 23-year-old Narek Hakhnazaryan, an Armenian cellist of real maturity whose performance of the Variations on a Rococo Theme was characterful and well-judged. Playing on a lovely instrument, Hakhnazaryan had the restraint to remain within the conventions of Tchaikovsky's idiosyncratic piece of Russian retro. But he also has the confidence to bring his own personality to the score and to respond to Gergiev's impulsive pushes.”
Guardian, September 2011
“23-year-old Narek Hakhnazaryan launched into Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with a tone whose beauty shone all the more brightly for its restraint. Every nuance of this subtle work was lovingly observed, and when he did let rip it was with blazing virtuosity. I would now like to hear what this boy can do with Bach’s solo suites: he could certainly give Yo-Yo Ma a run for his money.”
Independent, September 2011
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Narek Hakhnazaryan in performance
Watch Narek Hakhnazaryan perform the third movement of Rachmaninov Sonata for cello and piano, Op.19, at Jordan Hall, Boston, on 6 February 2011 (the pianist is Noreen Plera):Watch Narek Hakhnazaryan perform Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme with the Moscow City Symphony Orchestra and Michail Jurowski:Watch Narek Hakhnazaryan perform Schumann's Fantasiestuke, Op.73 at the Ravinia Music Festival:> Back to Narek Hakhnazaryan's profile
Tchaikovsky Competition film footage
Narek Hakhnazaryan won the first prize in the cello section of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, summer 2011.
The competition was filmed. To watch footage of Narek Hakhnazaryan performing in the competition, please read the following:
1) Please go to www.paraclassics.com and follow the link to the International Tchaikovsky Competition.
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BBC Music Magazine Interview
RISING STAR: Great artists of tomorrowInterview by Elizabeth DavisBBC Music MagazineFebruary 2013Narek Hakhnazaryan announced his arrival on the international music scene when he took away both the Cello First Prize and Gold Medal at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition. But, confides the Armenian, it wasn’t his decision to take up the instrument. ‘It was my mother’s choice. My parents are both musicians – my father plays violin in one...