“It all began with an email which I received on the last day of February in 2020, right before the pandemic,” Kobekina told The Violin Channel.
“Christoph Müller, the artistic director of the Gstaad Menuhin Festival and member of the board Stradivari Foundation Habisreutinger, wrote that the Stradivarius “De Kermadec-Bläss” Cello would be available starting from August 2021 and asked whether I would be interested in playing it,” she explained.
In trying the cello, she found it offered a distinct tone and allowed her “to experiment and get more from it.” She said the lower strings on the cello are especially powerful and produce a highly articulated sound.
Since 1957, the cello had been in Switzerland and was acquired by the Stradivari Foundation in 1964 — the same year the company was founded by Rolf Habisreutinger.
This cello was owned by the Breton family De Kermadec for around a century and was later bought by the Perceveux family. From around 1900 to 1909 it belonged to French soloist Francis Touche.
Between 2017 and 2021, it was loaned to Christine Hu, cellist of the string group, Trio Oreade.
Kobekina was a prizewinner at the 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition and achieved second place at the Enescu International Cello Competition. In 2015, she won Hamburg's TONALi Competition, where she was loaned a 1743 Guadagnini cello.
Her solo engagements have included Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Wiener Symphoniker, BBC Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, and Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra Moscow. She additionally worked with Krzysztov Penderecki, Valery Gergiev, Heinrich Schiff, Omer Meir Wellber, Vladimir Spivakov, and Dmitrij Kitajenko.
From 2018 to 2021, she was a BBC New Generation Artist and is currently completing postgraduate studies at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts with Kristin von der Goltz.
“From now on, this incredible Stradivari Cello will accompany me on every musical adventure,” said Kobekina. “I’m very grateful to the Stradivari Foundation and Christoph Müller for this loan.”
The foundation contains over 10 Stradivari instruments, six of which they own. According to its website, a special feature of Kobekina’s new cello is the use of polar wood in its construction of the back and sides of the instrument.