As natural as breathing

Dubbed ‘The Paganini of the trumpet,’ Sergei Nakariakov will perform at the Voice of Music Festival.

Sergei Nakariakov 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Sergei Nakariakov 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"Iam happy that lately I’ve been receiving more and more invitations to perform in Israel,” says Sergei Nakariakov in a phone interview prior to his concert at the Voice of Music Upper Galilee Festival later this month. The internationally acclaimed musician, dubbed “The Paganini of the trumpet” when he was 13 years old, adds, “Strangely enough, I’m sometimes presented as a French musician, but I am not – I’m an Israeli. My mother lives in Israel, and I even served in the Israeli army. But in 1993 I entered the Paris Conservatory and since then, Europe serves me as a base, nothing more.”
Born in 1977 in Nizhny Novgorod into a musical family, Nakariakov played piano from the age of six. He was nine when he heard LPs of the legendary Soviet trumpet player Timofey Dokshitser and immediately fell in love with the instrument. “I don’t know why – it simply suits me. Also, at that time I had a serious spine injury, and doctors forbade me from sitting for half a year, so I abandoned the piano without regrets and switched to trumpet, and I studied willingly with my father, Mikhail Nakariakov.”
He also said that time he felt the trumpet was more suitable for a boy than the traditional piano or violin. “I love other instruments, too, such as the piano and cello, but I don’t think I would be really successful with them.”
Nowadays, Nakariakov tours the world, performing trumpet concertos with orchestras, as well as performing with chamber ensembles and in recitals, accompanied on the piano by his sister Vera Okhotnikova or Belgian pianist Maria Meerovitch. The young award-winning artist has appeared in many of the world’s leading centers of music, including the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Lincoln Center in New York and the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall in London. He also performs in festivals in most European countries, as well as tours Japan and appears as a guest soloist in the US and Canada.
“Trumpet is mostly an orchestral instrument, but in addition to existing pieces for trumpet, such as concertos by Haydn and Hummel, my father has transcribed many pieces for me that were originally composed for other instruments, such as cello or violin or even vocal pieces. They constitute the core of my repertoire.”
Although Nakariakov who, according to a San Francisco Chronicle critic, “plays the trumpet the way the rest of us breathe,” admits that he mostly leans toward a Romantic repertoire, he also plays contemporary music, part of which was composed especially for him.
“Music for the trumpet is still being composed,” says Nakariakov, “and in various styles, including Baroque; but honestly, not all of it is as attractive.”
Among the pieces that he really likes, Nakariakov mentions the Ad Absurdum concerto, composed for him “by an extremely talented young German composer Jörg Widmann,” which he premiered with the Munich Chamber Orchestra and later performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiri Belohlavec at the Barbican in London.
Nakariakov also plays the flügelhorn. “On the whole, it is not regarded a classical instrument, and I’m sort of proud of introducing it to the classics,” he says.
Nakariakov’s vast discography, which has been enthusiastically received by critics and music lovers, includes the most famous trumpet concertos, as well as two recital albums of virtuoso music for trumpet by Bizet, Paganini, De Falla, Gershwin and Rimski-Korsakov with pianist Alexander Markovitch. The Élégie recording, with pianist Okhotnikova, includes a selection of famous Romantic works for voice and piano transcribed for trumpet and piano.
Concertos for Trumpet features transcriptions for trumpet and flügelhorn of string concertos by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Hoffmeister.
Sergei Nakariakov, accompanied by Maria Nemirovitch on the piano, will perform at the Voice of Music Festival in Kfar Blum on July 29. He will return to Israel to perform with the Israel Philharmonic in January 2012. For reservations: (03) 604-5000.