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Music review

Narek Hakhnazaryan/Oxana Shevchenko

Narek Hakhnazaryan/Oxana Shevchenko

RCS, Glasgow

Michael Tumelty

WHAT a sensation yesterday at the recital given as part of Radio 3's series of live broadcasts, running through the week under the title, Tchaikovsky in Miniature. We got that, and much more, from the stupendous young Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, accompanied with extraordinary delicacy by "she with fingers of steel" Oxana Shevchenko, the Kazakhstani winner of the 2010 Scottish International Piano Competition, here demonstrating her quite beautiful prowess as an accompanist of the first order.

But what on earth do we say about the amazing Hakhnazaryan? It was all there, in every note he played in a huge programme that opened with Tchaikovsky's lovely D minor Nocturne, leading effortlessly into the same composer's Pezzo Capriccioso, redefining the word capricious as he swept it off its heels, before bounding through Shostakovich's Cello Sonata in D minor, which almost burst at the seams with character, drive, wit, intensity, bite and sheer comprehension. There are not too many young cellists, even the most dazzling virtuosi, who have such a comprehensive command of their instrument, its techniques and the intellectual acuity required to penetrate and release the core of the music to the blindingly impressive degree of this Armenian.

As straight faced as he is on stage, he is up for a challenge too. He turned theatrical, intoning through Mikhail Bronner's haunting opus, Jew: Life and Death, a concentrated piece that seemed to enshrine Jewish music and character in its short but broad frame. And still the music came pouring out, with sparkling pyrotechnics in Rostropovich's Humoresque and, as a soulful encore, Rachmaninov's Vocalise. A breathtaking event.

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