Alexander Kobrin: An Exalting Experience

We’ve heard before the Schubert Sonata played Thursday night. The B-flat major, D. 960, was also at the end of Peter Rösel’s written program in November of 2015. Unlike Rösel’s, the finale of Alexander Kobrin’s evening at the Tryon Concert Association concert bore no space for an encore. This struck me as strange. The piece capped two wonderful programs, but led to something different.

Something had changed. “Surely, it was the artist!”, we might explain. But, the artist, in Mr. Kobrin’s case, seemed subsumed to being only a reflection of ourselves, as if we were not there, or he were not. Any personal connection to the audience was minimized, a dark-haired, lithe, bespectacled, ageless figure in black, before a black piano and sitting on upholstery of the same.

The witnesses to his work against a yellow earth and sky were our two familiar urns, bearing this time real magnolia leaves, pink azaleas undamaged by our frost, and river cane ascending.

The Schubert was a fitful dream. What it had been was an easy, glorious lyricism, finishing a half-hour before we expected it to be over. This time, it was a journey entering silence and pitch black, a train chugging over empty landscape to its destination. We were somehow on it to be delivered.
And, it was very real.

It may be what Schubert himself knew. The Beethoven had been compelling, cascading, a vitality of radiant brilliance and the Brahms a broad and rich lugubriousness. But it was the Schubert we remembered, being the last piece, perhaps. But, it was something else…really.

It seemed different but heart-rending, familiar yet undiscerned, a final statement of something grand. There was the throbbing pulse more than the elegance, the poignancy more than the song.

The old piano had reentered to give its last lullaby. It had been part of us and all our success.
An artist who knew the strengths, the weaknesses, had played us ourselves and anticipated the future.

We were great. And we are beautiful.

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