Performance Thursday, November 7, 2013 | 8 PM

Narek Hakhnazaryan
Noreen Cassidy-Polera

Zankel Hall
Getting “a near rock star ovation” for his spellbinding performances, hear why the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that “his command of the instrument is extraordinary” when this talented young cellist comes to Carnegie Hall for what promises to be an unforgettable recital.


  • Narek Hakhnazaryan, Cello
  • Noreen Cassidy-Polera, Piano


  • SCHUMANN Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70
  • RACHMANINOFF Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19
  • LIGETI Cello Sonata
  • MIKHAIL BRONNER The Jew: Life and Death
  • RACHMANINOFF Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
  • ROSTROPOVICH Humoresque, Op. 5

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Narek Hakhnazaryan

    Narek Hakhnazaryan was awarded the gold medal at the 2011 XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, the most prestigious prize given to a cellist. He has since emerged as one of the most significant young artists on the world stage.

    Mr. Hakhnazaryan's recent debuts include performances with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky and London Symphony orchestras, his debut with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his New York concerto debut performing the Elgar Concerto in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall with Orchestra of St. Luke's. In the 2012-2013 season, Mr. Hakhnazaryan appeared with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra playing the Dutilleux Concerto conducted by Mr. Gergiev; he also performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Jaap van Zweden, Kansas City Symphony under Michael Stern, and the Filarmonica della Scala under Juraj Valcuha. Additionally, he performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, NDR Hamburg, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and also made appearances at the Ravinia and Aspen music festivals.

    In the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Hakhnazaryan embarks on a three-week tour of the US, playing Dvořák with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi and Nikolai Alexeev. He also makes his debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Tchaikovsky's "Rococo" Variations and with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Other highlights include a tour with the Czech Philharmonic under Jiri Bělohlávek, and performances with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra and Filarmonica della Scala. Recent and upcoming recitals include appearances at Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin, Salle Pleyel, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Baltimore's Shriver Hall Concert Series, and Vancouver Recital Society.

    Mentored by Mstislav Rostropovich, Mr. Hakhnazaryan was the only cellist invited to travel on behalf of the Rostropovich Vishnevskaya Foundation. As first-prize winner in the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Mr. Hakhnazaryan debuted in the Young Concert Artists Series at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall and at the Kennedy Center.

    Mr. Hakhnazaryan was born in 1988 in Yerevan, Armenia, into a family of musicians: His father is a violinist and his mother is a pianist. His early studies were at the Sayat-Nova School of Music in Yerevan with Zareh Sarkisyan. At the age of 12, Mr. Hakhnazaryan began studies at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexey Seleznyov, and went on to work with Laurence Lesser at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.  

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  • Noreen Cassidy-Polera

    Pianist Noreen Cassidy-Polera ranks among the most highly regarded and diverse chamber artists performing today. She maintains a career that has taken her to every major American music center and abroad to Europe, Russia, and Asia. Recent performances include those at Alice Tully Hall, Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, 92nd Street Y, Jordan Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Kennedy Center, and Salle Cortot. She has appeared at the Caramoor, Bard, Grand Teton, and Cape Cod music festivals, and has performed with the chamber music societies of Philadelphia and La Jolla. She has recorded for Sony, EMI, Audiophon, and Centaur Records. 

    Ms. Cassidy-Polera has collaborated with leading soloists, including David Shifrin, Matt Haimovitz, Carter Brey, Antonio Meneses, Aurora-Natalie Ginastera, Yo-Yo Ma, and Leonard Rose. Winner of the accompanying prize at the VIII International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, she regularly collaborates with laureates of the Queen Elisabeth, Tchaikovsky, and Naumburg international competitions.

    Ms. Cassidy-Polera's mastery and affection for the complete standard cello-piano repertory is well-known, as is her attention and dedication to the works of contemporary composers. In recent seasons, she performed Elliott Carter's venerable Sonata for Cello and Piano on tour in Paris, New York, and Philadelphia, along with new works by Lowell Liebermann, Benjamin C. S. Boyle, and Kenji Bunch to critical acclaim. Her CD recording Sound Vessels (with cellist Scott Kluksdahl) features the recording premiere of Richard Wernick's Duo, as well as works by Robert Helps, Augusta Read Thomas, and Elliott Carter.

    Ms. Cassidy-Polera holds bachelor's and master's degrees in music from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Martin Canin.

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At a Glance

ROBERT SCHUMANN  Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70

Originally written for French horn, Schumann's Adagio and Allegro was quickly taken up by string players with the composer's blessing. This richly melodious diptych has become a staple of the cello repertoire.

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF  Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19

Rachmaninoff remained an unabashed champion of Romanticism long past the style's sell-by date in the first half of the 20th century. The impetuously lyrical language that characterizes the G-Minor Cello Sonata was the pianist-composer's lifelong stock in trade.


An early work, written before Ligeti fled his homeland in 1956 to escape the deadening artistic conformity imposed by Hungary's Communist regime, the virtuosic sonata for solo cello anticipates the composer's later interest in atmospheric timbres and complex, multilayered rhythms.

MIKHAIL BRONNER  The Jew: Life and Death

Jewish themes play a prominent role in the work of contemporary Russian composer Mikhail Bronner. Although it has no explicit extramusical program, this powerfully expressive meditation on the Jewish experience packs a strong dramatic punch.

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF  Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14

Rachmaninoff wrote his popular, textless Vocalise for soprano Antonina Nezhdanova. "What need is there of words," he told her, "when you will be able to convey everything better and more expressively than anyone could with words by your voice and interpretation?"


The great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich showed early promise as a composer. Although his career took a different path, he dabbled in composition for the rest of his life. This electrifying showpiece is one of the results.

Program Notes


Rostropovich's Humoresque, Op. 5
Narek Hakhnazaryan, Cello | Noreen Cassidy-Polera, Piano

This performance is part of Chamber Sessions II.