Video: An Unusual Performance of Mozart 4

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A friend this morning sent me a link to this video with the note “This is sort of interesting.”

Wrong! Thank you for the link but this performance is terribly, horribly misguided! At YouTube it just notes this clip as “Sergei Nakariakov in Moscow Concervatory Great Hall with Moscow Philarmonic Orchestra plays Mozart’s Horn Concerto No.4, 2d & 3d mov.” What they don’t say is he is performing it on Flugelhorn. Yikes! [But see UPDATE II, below, for more on what my initial reaction was about].

Watch the horn players back in the orchestra on the long shots. What are they thinking I wonder? Something like the Russian equivalent of “beam me out of here?”

Oh, notice how the soloist misses no notes? I could play it without missing notes on a Flugelhorn too. Get the right fingerings down and you should not miss notes in that range on a Flugelhorn. Color me unimpressed on that.

As another alternate instrumentation, most of you horn players out there reading this post could do a very similar performance on mellophone without missing any notes either, and could also sound very similar in terms of tone and such. “Sort of interesting.” Indeed.

I recently updated my post on Flanders and Swann doing Mozart 4 with a new video, if you don’t know this version be sure to check that out.

UPDATE: I softened the title of this post. As I note in my comment below, if I were not a horn player I could perhaps really enjoy this, it is just tough to hear such familiar horn literature performed in the low range on a Flugelhorn.

UPDATE II: First, I softened the title again. I don’t make it a habit of stirring things up in my posts, and in this one, meant as basically a light post, I stirred up more than I intended.

Reading what I wrote again a day later (Dec. 4), I think it is clear enough that my main reaction is to playing horn repertoire in the same octave as the horn on a Flugelhorn. For me, with horn ears, this just sounds really, really odd, the tone color is just wrong with the instrument being an octave too short, but for a non-hornist I am sure it could be very charming when well presented. One reader in particular sent a long, thoughtful comment privately, thank you for your note, and included a link to this additional performance of Mozart 4 by the same artist. Check it out.

Sergei Nakariakov has built a solo career around the trumpet and Flugelhorn. Checking his website one can easily tell he is very serious about his solo career, having recorded at this point nine (!) CDs, and that he is also very serious about performing at a high level on the Flugelhorn. I believe hearing him perform almost anything other than horn concertos (his rep includes concertos by Mozart, Gliere, and Franz Strauss) I could really enjoy his playing, which seems from the clips I have heard very musical and nuanced. I do want to put that out there as, again, I certainly support his right to perform anything he wants on Flugelhorn. I am sure there must be an audience for this product or he would not perform these works, and it speaks to the quality of horn music, that others would want to borrow it.

And, on the larger topic of people on other instruments playing “our” music, I  really don’t mind at all tuba players borrowing horn lit, they don’t have much to play otherwise. Frankly one of the most impressive student performances I have ever heard of Strauss 2 was on tuba. And I recorded the Schumann Fantasy Pieces on one of my CDs, a transcription of a work for clarinet. So, if Nakariakov is guilty of any artistic sin, I am just as guilty. And it makes me wonder what clarinet players think of my recording of their music?

With that all now said, I will just hope that future readers of this post still find my initial reaction entertaining to read and also hope that none were offended out there, especially fans of Sergei Nakariakov. Lord knows there  is enough trouble in the world, and it is not one of my goals to stir up more. I do wish him well and suggest any reader interested in his performances to check out his recordings and website.

University of Horn Matters