It was a regular Monday morning at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and I wasn’t looking forward to the week of classes, rehearsals and tests when Khoa Nguyen, another trumpet student, ran up to me wide-eyed and asked if I had heard the news: “Sergei Nakariakov is coming next week and he’s doing a masterclass and a recital.” Unbelievable! CCM gets all sorts of brass players coming through to do master classes and recitals, but we always know about them well in advance. Sergei Nakariakov next week? I guess that Monday could have been a lot worse.
After many phone calls, emails, and faxes made by Professor Alan Siebert and Graduate Assistant Bryan Crisp, over 250 people (mostly trumpet players) were jammed into Robert J. Werner Recital Hall to hear Nakariakov play. And it was FREE. Dean Douglas Lowry, with the help of horn professor Randy Gardner, not only managed to get this great trumpet player to come to CCM, but he also made it a free event. Things kept getting better and better and the recital hadn’t even started yet.
When it did start though, it was unforgettable. Nakariakov came on stage in his usual unassuming manner accompanied by Maria Meerovitch, a wonderful pianist, who also played several beautiful solo pieces on the recital. The program started with Jeanine Reuff’s Sonatine at a tempo surpassing the lightning fast version on his Teldec recording Trumpet Works. It was completely effortless and incredibly musical! His rendition of Après un rève by Gabriel Fauré on his custom four valve flugelhorn from Courtois was beautiful and enlightening musically. The ingenuity of his phrasing and mastery of his instrument blended into a flawless and awe-inspiring musical gesture. To conclude the recital he played Arban’s Variations on a Tyrolean Song in another display of incredible virtuosity and eloquent interpretation.
|... and listening during a masterclass
The masterclass was equally enlightening. Donna Martin, accompanist to many members of the CCM trumpet studio, played piano for four trumpet players: Joe Carlo, Diana Miller, Michael Woodin and Bryan Crisp. Joe, a high school student in the area, played a solid rendition of the Hindemith Sonata to start things off. After he finished, Sergei started talking about what would be the one of the major focal points of the masterclass: musicality. The melodies that Joe played were “too simple” and needed to be more musical and interesting. Sergei played most of the first movement for us and it was amazing. Not only did he bring a fresh approach to the piece (you won’t find a recording out there that sounds anything like his interpretation), but everyone in the audience found out first hand that not only can he play fast and beautifully, but he can also play LOUD! It was humbling to say the least.
As Diana and Mike both played, the same issue kept returning: be more musical. One sentence that caught my attention was “You can find nice moments in little things.” He was referring to a little motive that Diana was playing in the Hummel and trying to get her to make more out of this otherwise insignificant music. He encouraged her to use her imagination and become creative with the dynamics and phrasing.
During a question and answer session, we found out a little more about his practicing routine. He practices in short increments of about 12 to 15 minutes followed by a 5-minute break, and he uses an old cooking timer to make sure he doesn’t go over. Nakariakov also honed in on a point that had been brought up during Mike’s part of the masterclass: don’t let the little chips go. He said “I try to make something better every time I play” and “if you judge yourself hard when you are alone, then it is much easier in front of an audience.” Slow, soft practicing with attention to detail is his method of attack. On the other side of the issue though, Nakariakov also suggested practicing things as fast as you can play them from time to time: “don’t be afraid to practice at your maximum speed, because you are alone; there is no one to hear you.”
The two-day whirlwind event was now at an end and we were all a little richer for it. Thanks go out to Dean Douglas Lowry, Professor Randy Gardner, Professor Alan Siebert, Graduate Assistant Brian Crisp and all the others who helped make this a great event.
University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music