Fastest cellist in the west?

Fastest cellist in the west?


norman lebrecht

September 26, 2017

Narek Hakhnazaryan has been awarded the title Honoured Artist of Armenia by President Serzh Sargsyan.



    Norman does not mention this, but the YouTube video does say the piece is Rostropovich’s Humoresque, Op. 5.

    Here is what Elizabeth Wilson writes about the composition of the piece, in her biography of Rostropovich:

    “It was around this time [1943?] that the young Rostropovich made his first attempt to enrich the virtuoso cello repertoire, when he composed his Humoresque Op. 5 for Kozolupov. The piece was a study of fast spiccato technique, somewhat reminiscent of Popper’s Elfentanz and Davydov’s At the Fountain, and an appropriate offering for his teacher.

    ‘It happened that I saw my fellow students were collecting money to buy flowers. I asked them whom they were to be presented to. “Oh, they’re for Kozolupov’s birthday tomorrow.” I had completely forgotten about this date, and felt upset not to be contributing. So I went home and decided to compose a piece for him. I wrote and learned Humoresque that same night, and performed it–from memory–for Semyon Marveevich in the class the next day.’

    “With its innovative harmonic language and its witty and brilliant use of the cello, the Humoresque was a wonderfully effective concert piece which Rostropovich often played as an encore. It was published in the late 1960s upon which many of his students added it to their repertoire (p. 32 in Rostropovich. The Musical Life of the Great Cellist, Teacher and Legend).”

    You can listen to (but not watch) Rostropovich play it here:

  • NYMike says:

    And his fingers never even leave his hand……

  • Roger Lebow says:

    Such a wonderful young artist–thank you for passing it along. If I may say so, it’s not the speed that makes NH such a supremely marvelous player–as Malcolm Kottler points out above, there are a number of such flashy sautille pieces in the literature, most of which you can hear played at similar pace on YT–but his left-hand control, impeccable intonation and above all, his musical shaping. It’s also rare to hear such clarity at this tempo.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    He and the pianist both arrive at the finish line at the same time – doesn’t that also make her the West’s fastest pianist? (And who is the fastest cellist in the East, and is she or he faster than this youngster?)