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Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

William Congreve “The Mourning Bride”, Act III, Scene 2.

William Congreve had it right.  My breast has been right savage. I might share the story when I can write sanely about what can happen when you think you’re making a simple change in technology (AAARGH) – but meantime let me share the joy.   There’s been such music!

Some huge scale performances – grand opera on a grand scale, some much more intimate. IMG_7081_1

The latest first. This weekend, the SchlossKonzert at Schloss Heerbrugg, just a bit up the Rhine Valley.

IMG_7085_1This one was a serendipitous surprise. I’d seen a sign, grabbed a pamphlet, seen “Sergei Nakariakov & Gershwin Quartet”, failed to properly follow the double negatives in the German description which actually pointed out it wasn’t a jazz quartet but a proper string quartet, got the tickets, and off we went.


IMG_7083_1We were a small audience, close up to the stage, in what I think was originally a hay-barn.

The walls were aerated in a quite Moorish pattern of openings, now wind-sealed but light-permitting. The high wooden ceiling made for a fabulous acoustic.

And the music, breath-holding. Mozart, Kreisler, Poulenc, Borodin for the “ah yes” response, and other composers who were new to me but extraordinary.

Sergei Nakariakov

Sergei Nakariakov

But Sergei Nakariakov – wow! He was called “The Paganini of the trumpet” when he was only 13, and his virtuosity was as extraordinary as his back-story (literally). As a boy he’d been studying to become a pianist. He had a spine injury, and decided he needed an instrument he could play standing up. Piano’s loss, trumpet and flugelhorn’s gain.

What stays with me is his complete focus on the music, on producing not just passages of incredible speed and dexterity, but exquisitely shaped long legatos,   And while the string quartet were in constant eye contact, sparkling at each other as they threw phrases back and forth, he played eyes-down after the “ready-to-start” glance at the leader.   Only during the applause (and there was a lot, with a standing ovation), did he engage at all with the audience. Otherwise, it was just him and the music. And we felt privileged just to watch and listen. Nothing more was required.


Sergei Nakariakov & Gershwin Quartet – and they were generous with their encores too.

Mani was enthralled. He’d famously played first trumpet in the Rheineck City Band as a youth, and a group of them had done the dancehalls and pubs, playing the standards for 5Francs a night. His mouth and his breathing remembered, as he listened.

I was going to go on to write about more music. But .. now I want to let the memory of this performance stand alone. If you want to hear what I mean… there’s some samples on http://nakariakov.com/