Chopin Sonatas CD Review
“His ability to bring out the descriptive and the depictive in music has crucial bearing on his performances of Chopin’s sonatas on this disc.”
“But every once in a while, a pianist comes along who does have the ability to break through my involuntary unresponsiveness to Chopin, and Alexander Kobrin is such a pianist.”
“…he’s in his prime and still has many years of continuing success and fame to look forward to.”
“…the Romantic ethos is strongly felt in his playing of Chopin’s sonatas. You can hear it in the pulse-quickening drama he brings to the scores and in the tonal nuances and emotional expression he brings to his phrasing, his shifts in tempo, and in the coloration of his dynamics.”
“I find myself more drawn to Chopin by Kobrin than I am by many of the pianists who are well loved for their playing of the composer’s music, pianists such as Horowitz, Rubinstein, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Van Cliburn, among a bevy of other famous names. But anyone who can make me appreciate Chopin in the way Kobrin can has to be an artist of very special talent and communicative power. Imagine just how much more admiring of Kobrin I’d be if only I actually liked Chopin.”
Jerry DubinsFanfare Magazine
...his strengths as a pianist are on display throughout the recording even in his less unusual choices. I particularly appreciate his knack for bringing a clear sense of direction to the extended harmonic sequences that Chopin uses in the First Sonata’s first movement. Similarly, Kobrin never simply repeats a passage (including when he repeats a movement’s exposition); he always finds something new in it—but never gratuitously. Kobrin’s sense of a repeated passage is always influenced by what has come before it; we hear the music take a journey in which familiar motifs bear the impact of what has been experienced.
As I suggested at the beginning of this review, this level of musicianship alone would make Kobrin’s Chopin worth hearing. His unique approach to numerous passages in the sonatas make this recording urgent hearing. Excellent sound quality is a welcome bonus.Myron Silbersteinread more...
"A dignified, exquisitely played invitation on French horn opens the piece, and Kobrin's response on the piano immediately establishes him as a master, pulling every iota of drama and delight from the score as he, Scaglione, and Symphoria perform with exceptional unity. Passion rises to climactic heights in the second, highly dramatic movement, and Kobrin's virtuosity becomes increasingly evident."
"When the final notes faded, the crowd leapt up as one, cheering as Kobrin and Scaglione embraced, then shouting and continuing to applaud as Symphoria soloists were recognized for their contributions. This Symphoria concert will be talked about years from now as a landmark moment in the return of a classical music orchestra to Central New York."Linda LoomisSyracuse.com
"Schumann’s Waldszenen... was indeed where Kobrin’s artistic center lies, and I think most people who know Schumann and this glorious piece in nine short movements—sketches, really, in which the composer cuts directly to the feelings and impressions evoked in the sylvan titles. Kobrin played these with sweep and atmosphere, with more pedalling than in the Beethoven, but with a fine sense of what is appropriate. Few listeners would fail to be convinced, or even carried away by Kobrin’s brilliant technique and intuitive sense of Schumann’s poetry.
"His unique personal insight into this aspect of Beethoven’s writing is, once one understands it, convincing and valuable."
"Alexander Kobrin’s playing is deeply thought out and intuitive at once—truly individualistic, but not quite idiosyncratic—and his recital was fascinating. I look forward to hearing more of his playing..."Michael MillerNew York Arts
"Kobrin’s playing was as gorgeous as this music, and this instrument, could possibly sound."George GrellaNew York Classical Review
..."Kobrin unleashed a fiery, bright-toned account of Chopin’s Douze Études, Op 25. These technical exercises, each designed to highlight a different pianistic problem, were delivered with transparent clarity — just the job for the Summer Academy students in the audience, who gave Kobrin a well-deserved standing ovation at the end."Giles WoodfordeOxford Times
He surrendered neither the smoothness nor the dynamic fluidity that the modern piano allows, and he gave his sense of fantasy free rein, using a shapely bass line to suggest drama in the opening Allegro and creating an almost confessional spirit in the central Andante cantabile.Alann KozinnThe New York Times
Russian pianist Alexander Kobrin's dazzling dexterity certainly seemed supernatural to see…Nick Rogers
The final notes had barely faded before the audience seemed to rise as one, cheering.Laura Stewart
His conceptions of music are always interesting, convincing [and] beautifully playedDonald Isler
He effortlessly generated a wide variety of tone colors and paid exquisite attention to the tiniest of phrasing details in Tchaikovsky’s war horse, the B-flat minor concerto.Jonathan Neufeld
I have left the best to last. I first heard 25 year-old Moscow-born Alexander Kobrin when I was chairman of the 1998 Scottish international Piano Competition. Then his first prize-winning performances were more athletically than musically motivated. Now his playing has broadened to become mernorably personal and stylish. In Rachmaninov’s Op 33 Etudes-tableaux, everything is boldly and vitally characterised, the vertiginous whirlwind of No 5 in E flat minor turned from the usual manic chase into a superbly shaded and inflected drama. Both here and in the Second Sonat a(played in the 1931 revision), despite fire-storms of virtuosity, there is always room for everything to tell and Kobrin achieves a hypnotic sense of the music's dark necromancy. Brahms's Paganini Variations(for Clara Schumann, his ‘witch' Variations) are awe-inspiringly assured and any lingering doubts are silenced by a special imaginative delicacy in Chopin’s B major Nocturne. Harmonia Mundi's lavish presentation comes in excellent sound.Bryce Morrison
…He played down the work's blockbuster qualities in favor of its lyricism, which he couched in a thoughtfully shaped, singing line. That isn't to say that he ignored the fireworks entirely, and when he addressed the barnstorming passages on their own terms, he did so with a steely edge and ample - if thoroughly controlled - forceAllan Kozinnread more...
Alex Kobrin’s interpretative musicianship was here at its very best, as he delivered a reading of considerable insight.Robert Matthew-Walker
What a depth of feeling in the pathetique [of the Haydn Sonata in F] Adagio, and what delicate touch to the Minuet with his celebratory manner! The Sonata in E minor was delivered with the same stroke of elegance, grace and spirit. Likewise [in] the performance of Robert Schumann’s Kinderszenen op.15…sensitivity and gracefulness elevated the performance into a special treat for the ears…Kobrin knew how to set all the different kinds of tone colours and structures against each other to create contrast, and to illuminate tensions between light and shade, brightness and melancholy in a multiple of layers.Brunhild Schmelting
Images of shimmering water and airy bells emerged from the concerto's dreamy slow movement. Kobrin's rubato -- that is, his stretching of phrases -- was tasteful while still furnishing a sense of freedom and space. An etude-like virtuosity was given full expression in the final movement.Matthew Erikson