Review Kobekin / Anastasia Kobekina and Vladimir Kobekin

Photo by Evgeny Evtyukhov

Award-winning composer Vladimir Kobekin is best known for his opera works, which have successfully been staged in both Russia and Europe. Apart from operas, he has a great affection for the cello and has dedicated his cello works to his daughter Anastasia, who is also this album’s soloist. Therefore, Kobekin is quite a personal project for the composer as well as his daughter since she has been playing some of the album’s fixtures, such as “Sappho,” since childhood. 

At the young age of 24, Anastasia has already had an impressive career. She is a prizewinner of renowned competitions, including the George Enescu Competition (2nd prize) and the Tonali Competition (1st prize). As a chamber musician she has performed with some of the biggest names of today’s classical scene. Her future looks bright to say the least. She is noticeably in her element when performing the compositions on Kobekin, feeling comfortable and inspired. Her playing is spirited and always anticipating. Anastasia also shows no audible technical restrictions whatsoever; she demonstrates absolute freedom in every passage. 

The compositions on Kobekin are seemingly unambiguous — titles and music go hand in hand, one painting the other. For instance, “Ship of Fools” (originally an allegory from Plato’s “Republic,” but has been the title of several other works) sounds quite like an allegory. The same can be said about “A Summer Evening with a Cuckoo,” where there is an audible dialogue paired with mimicking bird sounds. References of the titles stem from all over: Plato, Bouguereau, Greek mythology, as well as classical and Renaissance music. 

Vladimir Kobekin accompanies his daughter on the piano in some of the works. Not only does it add depth to the compositions, the piano accompaniment is masterful and creates an immaculate dialogue with the soloist as well. In some of the other works, there is some minimal accompaniment of percussion (“Gallardo”) and bells (“Bolshoi Raspev”). The latter has the role of a large epilogue on this album; it is where we witness some long-awaited vulnerability in both composition and performance. The title stems from a 16th century Russian chant, so here it seems that after going through several classic references, Kobekin has drawn from his native Russian culture — a fitting ending, which frames the album. There are shifts in atmosphere with some delicate harmonies and overall the soloist is not only pushing in a direction, but searching. All of the pieces on the album seem to tell a story, but this one perhaps does so in the clearest manner.

As mentioned previously, Anastasia has what seems to be an absolute freedom in her playing. The details of the cello are just delightful, crystal clear and articulate. While performing her father’s
compositions, one sense an absolute sense of safety. This is good, yet delicate
because the risk is to lack in vulnerability. All in all, this is an ambitious release which would certainly be
wonderful to enjoy in a live performance.

// Kobekin was released on August, 2018, by Feral Note. Order here.

Cover Image: Anastasia Kobekina