International concert artists Alexander Kobrin, 2005 Gold Medal winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and Emanuel Borok, retired concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and currently Distinguished Artist-in-Residence in violin at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will present the first of three concerts devoted to the complete collection of Beethoven’s 10 sonatas for violin and piano on Saturday, Sept. 6 at SMU. The pair’s additional two concerts will be presented March 7 and May 11, 2015.
The concerts are part of the Meadows School’s Faculty Artist and Distinguished Alumni Recital Series. Launched in 2011, the series features performances by outstanding faculty and/or alumni who maintain international concert careers.
“The four sonatas we chose for the first concert represent the early period of Beethoven’s work, which often reflects on the style and form of Mozart,” said Borok. “At the same time, one can easily hear elements of the dramatic language and intensity so familiar to us from Beethoven’s later years, as found in some of his symphonies or his late quartets.”
The concert opens with the Sonata in D major, op. 12, which ranges from stormy and bombastic to humble and almost sad. It’s followed by the Sonata in E flat major, op. 12, which includes a virtuoso showcase for the pianist in the first movement. Following intermission will be the Sonata in A minor, op. 23, known for its juxtaposition of drama and humor. The concert concludes with the Sonata in G major, op. 30, perhaps the most cheerful of all Beethoven’s sonatas, incorporating an elegant minuet and images of countryside festivities. “The G major sonata is remarkable given the fact that it was composed after Beethoven learned he would go deaf,” said Borok. “He was deeply depressed and even contemplated suicide, yet I cannot think of too many pieces he wrote that are as cheerful and optimistic as this one.”
The September 6 concert will be held at 8 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium, located in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus in Dallas. Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students and SMU faculty and staff. For more information, call the Meadows ticket office at 214-768-2787 or visit meadows.smu.edu.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS:
Born in 1980 in Moscow, Alexander Kobrin studied with Tatiana Zelikman at the Gnessin School of Music and legendary professor Lev Naumov at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he also received his master’s degree. Kobrin is the winner of the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and was also a winner of the renowned Busoni, Hamamatsu and Glasgow international piano competitions. He has received numerous special awards for his brilliant technique, his musicality, and his emotional engagement with the audience through music.
Kobrin tours extensively in Europe, Asia and the U.S., giving recitals and performances with orchestras in such major music halls as Albert Hall in London, Avery Fisher Hall in New York, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and many others. He has also collaborated with numerous leading conductors including Mihail Pletnev, James Conlon and Claus Peter Flor, has appeared at festivals worldwide, and has served as a jury member for a number of international piano competitions.
In addition to his performing and teaching, he regularly undertakes recording projects, working with various well-known labels from Quartz and King Records to Harmonia Mundi and Centaur Records. In addition to the Van Cliburn Competition disc from Harmonia Mundi (2005), which included Rachmaninov and Brahms, he has released three volumes of Essential Chopin, as well as a Brahms CD (op.79, op.116 and op.119). His most recent projects include a new CD of Haydn (December 2012) with Quartz, and a Schumann CD, due to come out in 2014 with Centaur Records.
Kobrin is the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University and an Artist Faculty member at the Steinhardt School at New York University.
Emanuel Borok, concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1985 to 2010, has had a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. Before coming to Dallas, Borok served for 11 seasons as associate concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Born and trained in the Soviet Union, Borok received his early musical instruction at the renowned Darzinya Music School in Riga, Latvia, and the Gnessin School of Music in Moscow. In 1964 he became prizewinner of the most important national violin competition in the former Soviet Union. In 1971, he won the position of co-concertmaster in the Moscow Philharmonic.
Since emigrating to the West in 1973, Borok has made numerous solo appearances around the world, including the Bach Double Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Pinchas Zukerman and Brahms’s Double Concerto with Janos Starker. He has appeared at major festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe, and his chamber music partners have included such distinguished artists as Itzhak Perlman, Lynn Harrell, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman and many others. In addition to his highly active performing life, Borok is an internationally recognized teacher who has taught at the Tanglewood Music Center; Royal Conservatory in London; Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy; Conservatoire de Paris; Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Moscow and the Academy of Music in Prague, among other noted institutions worldwide.
In 1999, Borok was part of the Grammy-nominated CD Voces Americanas with Dallas-based new music ensemble Voices of Change. He also recorded the Shostakovich Violin Sonata with Tatiana Yampolsky (which received a four-star rating from the Penguin Cassette Guide), the solo part of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with musicians from the Boston Symphony (named “Best of the Month” by Stereo Review magazine), and Beethoven’s Archduke Trio with pianist Claude Frank and cellist Leslie Parnas (honored by Ovation magazine as the record of the year).
Borok’s violin is a 400-year-old Brothers Amati violin, made in 1608 in Cremona, Italy. In 2009, for the violin’s 400th “birthday,” Borok traveled with his violin to Cremona and presented a concert for the people of the city, all of which was captured in the documentary A Cremona con Amore.
Borok retired from the orchestra life in 2010 and is currently Distinguished Artist-In-Residence in violin at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, where he combines his teaching with performing, conducting master classes and adjudicating competitions.