Close-up: Sergey Khachatryan

He's dazzled the orchestral world – now the violinist is keeping it in the family

"I never counted myself as a child prodigy," says violinist Sergey Khachatryan. Others may beg to differ. Born in Armenia, he first picked up the violin aged five, only because his mother, father, and sister Lusine (pictured here with Sergey) were all pianists and another would have been "too much for one house". Within five years the family had moved to Germany and Sergey was playing concertos with professional orchestras. By 15, he had become the youngest-ever winner of the Sibelius violin competition in Helsinki.

A dizzy career ascent, then, but one during which he remained level-headed. "You see other young violinists getting complexes about going on stage because of the pressure put on them by parents and teachers, but that was never the case with me," he says. "I was going to a normal school and having a normal child's life."

Now 23, Khachatryan has been repeatedly acclaimed for an expressiveness beyond his years; one critic described his performance of Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto at the 2005 Proms as "one of the most mature and complete interpretations of this piece it is possible to imagine".

Aside from his orchestral work, he regularly partners his sister in recitals: they're at the Wigmore Hall this week, offering a programme of Beethoven, Brahms, and Bach.

Whatever may lie ahead, his main concern is conserving the passion that has propelled him this far. "You see many of today's artists go out on stage and you can tell they're there because it's their 'job' – I'm afraid of that word. Every time I go out on stage, I want to be in a special state, to create a special atmosphere."

Sergey and Lusine Khachatryan play the Wigmore Hall, London W1, on Wednesday (www.wigmore-hall.org.uk, 020 7935 2141)

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