Sergey Khachatryan Recital – Wigmore Hall (30 January)

Sonata in E minor, K304 *
Sonata in F, Op.24 (Spring) *
Sonata in A minor, Op.105

Sergey Khachatryan (violin)
Lusine Khachatryan & Vladimir Khachatryan * (pianos)

Reviewed by: Neil Evans

Reviewed: 30 January, 2004
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Following his striking but frustratingly short-lived appearance alongside Anne-Sophie Mutter in Bach’s ’double concerto’ two nights earlier, it was good to hear the 18-year-old Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan in a full recital at the Wigmore Hall.

In a nicely balanced programme, Khachatryan (whose Debut CD is available on EMI, and he has recorded the Khachaturian and Sibelius concertos for Naïve) won over the audience with his direct and utterly tasteful approach to classical, romantic and twentieth-century works. It was a measure of his fresh but unselfconscious playing that in his hands one of Ysaÿe’s flashiest encores sounded much more than simply a virtuoso showpiece. This is because, unlike say Vengerov’s, his is not a showy technique. It is, however, equally as assured and commanding even if he can sometimes appear reticent.

This was the case in the first half when Khachatryan was joined by his father, Vladimir, in Mozart’s E minor and Beethoven’s Spring sonatas, Khachatryan was never less than poised and thoughtful but this was occasionally at the expense of greater feeling. The piano line Khachatryan senior was a little coarse and overpowering in places which led to the Mozart suffering a distinct lack of unity. With this composer’s deceptively simple but exposed lines it is essential for both pianist and violinist to conceive of their phrasing together.

The Beethoven found them on more common ground but it was with Sergey’s sister Lusine in the second half of Debussy and Schumann that the piano-playing effected something of a sea change in both balance and overall interpretation. 21-year-old Lusine not only seemed to play and breath as one with Sergey but she seemed to share his interpretative vision; closely underpinning his playing but also carefully shaping her own, she seemed to elicit in Sergey a greater expressive freedom. The still-subtlety of their Debussy contrasted with the unfolding anxiety and passion of the first and final movements of the Schumann, both works idiomatically played – on this showing I’m sure it won’t be long before we see either (or hopefully both of them) returning.

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