Anastasia Kobekina | Venice Review
by Illiam Sebitz
Sony Classical’s recent debut release, Venice, by the exceptionally talented cellist Anastasia Kobekina, presents a program of evolving classical music eras. Anastasia, heralded as an “unrivaled musician” by Le Figaro, embarks on an audacious journey with this album, challenging conventional musical narratives about Venice and inviting listeners into a deeply personal exploration of the city’s essence, beyond its clichéd portrayals. As a former BBC New Generation Artist and Borletti-Buitoni Trust Artist, Kobekina’s skill in merging the realms of modern and baroque cellos paints a vivid picture of Venice as an expansive canvas for imaginative exploration.
“Venice” is a concept album that delves into Kobekina’s intricate relationship with the iconic city, steering clear of the typical gondoliers and carnival mask imagery to question the authenticity of our collective perceptions. The album is a dialogue between the past and present, featuring compositions from the Renaissance era by Claudio Monteverdi and John Dowland to contemporary works by Brian Eno and Caroline Shaw. This eclectic mix serves as a bridge across centuries and a mirror reflecting the city’s multifaceted character as both a tangible place and an intangible idea.
The inclusion of Barbara Strozzi, Vivaldi, and Bach, juxtaposed with Caroline Shaw’s “Limestone and Felt,” illustrates a daring puncture through historical layers, bringing the essence of Venice into the present day. Kobekina’s rendition of “Ariadne’s Lament” by her father, Vladimir Kobekin, based on a melody by Monteverdi, underscores the album’s emotional depth and the personal stakes involved in its creation. Monteverdi and Vivaldi’s presence throughout the album anchors it firmly within Venice’s rich musical heritage, with Kobekina’s interpretations shining new light on these classical compositions.
Kobekina’s performance, particularly in “Lamento d’Arianna” by Monteverdi, showcases her exceptional ability to convey the vocal qualities of the cello, navigating through the piece’s dynamic range and emotional depth with precision and empathy. Her interpretation of “Go Crystal Tears” by John Dowland captures the song’s melancholic essence, using her phrasing and vibrato to navigate the emotional landscape of longing, pain, and hope. In Vivaldi’s “II. Largo” from the Cello Concerto in E-Flat Major, RV 408, Kobekina’s nuanced approach brings out the movement’s introspective beauty, establishing a dialogue that feels both intimate and expansive.
Anastasia Kobekina’s Venice transcends the mere showcase of virtuosic talent, embodying a profound meditation on the nature of music, place, and memory. By framing the album not as a collection of cello pieces but as an exploration of the human voice and its capacity for emotional expression, Kobekina invites us into a world where music serves as the most direct conduit to the soul. The album’s thoughtful curation and Kobekina’s interpretative genius make Venice an achievement in her career and a pivotal moment in the contemporary classical music canon you will want to experience.
Venice is a programmed journey through time, emotion, and imagination, facilitated by Kobekina’s masterful cello playing. It challenges listeners to reconsider their perceptions of Venice, offering a musical experience as enchanting and mysterious as the city itself. For aficionados of classical music and the cello, Venice represents an essential exploration of Kobekina’s artistry and a reimagining of Venice’s musical landscape.
Fiesta at Caroga
Release Date: February 2, 2024
Label: Sony Classical
About the author
Born and raised in a picturesque European village, my fondness for music began during my formative years, when the charismatic tones of the recorder first filled the halls of my primary school. This early fascination escalated into my lifelong pursuit of embracing the melodious charm of the flute; I have even spent time refining my skills at a music conservatoire. As a seasoned music connoisseur, I find myself captivated by the multifaceted world of music. I enjoy writing music reviews to better enable me to explore genres as diverse as world, rock, jazz, classical, folk, and film music, each offering a unique auditory journey that enriches my life and intellect.
In my spare moments, you'll likely find me meticulously crafting my latest woodworking project, sharpening my skills with flute etudes, or inventing tales of fantasy through the art of creative writing. My eclectic interests and expertise harmonize to create a symphony of passion and curiosity that resonates within every aspect of my life as a music enthusiast.