The Norwegian Academy of Music kindly published an article about me, including videos by the upcoming artist Kyrre Lien, whose remarkable style I hope you’ll enjoy! The interview is in Norwegian but the video of my first go at Chopin’s G-flat major etude (‘black keys’) at a Viennese fortepiano of the 1820s can be viewed here! The instrument is a original Alois Graff grand of ca 1825.
Thanks to everyone who came to my Carnegie Hall recital Keys to Romance on Feb 24 – and to the several recitals in Norway ahead of my NYC debut! I am so grateful for this grand experience, and for all the attention I got in the form of reviews. Reviews are most often a scarcity nowadays, but luckily, bloggers and online journals often ‘save’ us musicians when the paper press has to prioritize differently.
Below, you can see excerpts from the four reviews I got, along with links to the full texts. Happy reading!
Michael Miller of the New York Arts: “Christina Kobb… emerges in this recital as not only an outstanding scholar and historical instrument specialist, but a master of the modern piano of impressive musicianship and sophistication. … Kobb’s studies of the keyboard technique of Schubert’s own time have shown her how to render the bass with perfect clarity and to phrase the melody beautifully with a minimum of pedal. Her playing of the Allegretto [of Schubert’s D. 537] was impeccable … This performance was not only the result of scholarship and musical application, but a colorful and sensitive revelation of an underestimated piece.
Her performance had all the bravura one could want as well as the intimate expression she has so finely cultivated in her playing…This was an especially rich debut concert for New York—rich in scholarship, thought, sensitivity, musicality and maturity—and promises a rewarding future for lovers of piano music.”
Jeffrey Williams for The New York Concert Review: “a thought-provoking evening, both intellectually and musically. … Ms. Kobb’s program notes were among the best this reviewer has seen. Her style is that of the storyteller, and while she presents musical analysis, it is nothing beyond the grasp of most, regardless of their level of music education. … The one thing that is immediately apparent about Ms. Kobb is her no-nonsense approach. If one wants extravagant gestures, flashy dress, and indulgent readings, they need to look elsewhere. Ms. Kobb is all about the music. … Ms. Kobb treated the audience to a reverent performance [of Grieg’s op. 1] that exceeded the musical value of the pieces. … [Schumann’s sonata op. 11] was the highlight of the evening, as Ms. Kobb played this love story with passion while maintaining complete control. … The filled hall gave Ms. Kobb a standing ovation at the end.”
Victor Levy of piaNYC: “I thoroughly enjoyed Keys to Romance. Ms. Kobb’s upright posture may have seemed prim to some. For me it seemed refined, even majestic. There was no artful hand waving or crouching. There were very expressive motions and revealing facial expressions completely in sync with the very beautiful sound. Enhanced by a physical expression with no deficiency, what I heard was not a sound fit for the small space in which a performer of the early Romantic era would have performed on a keyboard of the time. Christina Kobb’s passion, expressed in the reconstructed technique adapted for this occasion, filled the modern Weill Hall with all of the finesse written into the scores, as well as the full power of the emotions that the composers felt for each other, preserved and made audible for us, their enduring admirers.” (The photo above is by Victor Levy).
Daniele Sahr for Seen and Heard International: “At the piano, Kobb smiled often and figuratively danced with the instrument. … Excerpts from Clara Schumann’s Quatre Pieces caracteristiques were delivered like a gift … [In Schumann’s op. 11], her maturity as a pianist and interpreter shone through. Though Schumann famously wrote some of the most difficult scherzos, Kobb met the challenge with virtuosity and skill, never sacrificing her interpretive thread to the technical demands. … She held [the audience] in full attention and wonder.”
A special thanks to the reviewers, who took the time and effort both to get to know my work and to publish about it – I appreciate you so very much!
My newest article is out! I’m honoured to receive Prof. Norman Jackson’s to contribute to the last issue of Lifewide Magazine no. 18, where the topic is Exploration. I have attempted to explain how I explore in my own practice to keep making improvements to all aspects of my piano playing. Below, you see the first few lines. The full content can be read here: lifewide_magazine_18, pp. 69-74. See also their website.
KEYS TO SYSTEMATIC EXPLORATION—A PIANIST’S PERSPECTIVE
Piano playing is my practice. As with many artistic practices, it is supposed to be creative, intuitive, touching, virtuosic and mind–blowing. Nevertheless, routine, boredom, frustration and lack of initiative may threaten musical practices, too. That is, if we forget to explore.
The explorative state
I love the explorative state of mind! I regard exploration in any practice as integral both to continued development and continued excitement. I like to think of a practice as an ecology of many constituents or actions; on the physical, mental and emotional level respectively. As I am highly motivated to improve my performance, I work regularly on developing all three levels plus the interaction between them. I actually practise aligning these levels to each other, actively conditioning myself for an explorative state of mind and being.
On each level, “renewal of cells” is part of the process, just like everything in nature is in constant growth and adaptation. Have you noticed how even dead branches block the sun? Similarly, removing that which is already dead, redundant or even toxic is vital to secure growth in a practice. And steady growth is, in turn, achieved by channeling all of our efforts – physically, mentally and emotionally – in the same direction.
I would argue that exploration requires planning and conscious decisions. You may stumble on an idea of how to explore something, but once you decide to pursue it, a strategy is vital. The physical level of a practice is usually the best place to start, as it is relatively easy to inspect and adjust. The constituents of the mental condition (cognitive activity) may be a little harder to grasp and that of the emotional level even less tangible. Nevertheless, I keep exploring and will share some of my experience here.
To read on, please go here! lifewide_magazine_18, p. 69!
You’ve got 3 – THREE – last hours to support my Carnegie Hall Debut! Since I met the minimum goal of $ 4000 yesterday, thanks to amazing supporters, I have stretched my goal: If I get additional $ 400, I will spend them on a flight to Toronto, to volunteer with colleague Shari Tallon on her charity project for Liberty for Youth! YOU can make it happen!
Here’s the link to my Kickstarter campaign!
Here’s the link to an Interview by Michael Miller, which is just released!
Great news today: My Carnegie Hall debut recital is all set up! Please join the crowdfunding campaign on the link, it is very much appreciated!
I am already the proud recipient of Nils Larsen bequest 2016 (Nils Larsens legat) and All Classical Portland is kindly sponsoring me. Nevertheless, there are still expenses unpaid in connection with this great step. If you care about piano playing, romantic music and beautiful sound and phrasing, I invite you to join me on my way to Carnegie Hall 2017!
Thanks so much!
Here is my program:
DCINY Artist Series
Christina Kobb, Piano
Clara Schumann (1819-96): From op. 6, Soirées Musicales (1834-36) Toccatina, a minor
Franz Schubert (1770-1828): Sonata, a minor, D. 537 (1817)
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907): Drei Phantasiestücke, (1861 – later published as Vier Stücke, op. 1)
Clara Schumann: op. 5, Quatre Pièces caractéristiques (1833-36)
I Impromptu: Le Sabbat
IV Scene Fantastique: Le Ballet des Revenants
* * * * * * *
Robert Schumann (1810-56): Sonata nr. 1, op. 11, f-sharp minor (1832-36)
Franz Liszt (1811-86)/Robert Schumann: Liebeslied, S566/R53, “Widmung”
Liszt’s arrangement of the first lied of Schumann’s op. 25, Myrthen
As you can see, I am presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York and my crowdfunding campaign is run by Soaring Dreams via Kickstarter.
As an alternative to mailing concert programs around the globe, I just thought I’d show you a few glimpses of my concerts and lectures!
Please feel free to share it with your contacts!
For bookings, please contact christina[a]fortepiano.no
The video has been produced in collaboration with Blackbear Music International. Do visit their website for more instructive videos on piano playing and other musical subjects!
The University of Oslo has produced a free, online course, starting 1 February, called MUSIC MOVES! My hands are featured in one of the videos :) To learn more about the relationship between sound and movement, and why some kinds of Music make you want to move, please sign up via this link – you can also see a trailer for the course here: Music moves
A new article by Lenny Cavallaro for Stay Thirsty Magazine was just released! Sound files included :)
After the success of my first video, Jonathan Eder of Portland Community Media has produced a video where I demonstrate early piano technique on a modern piano.