Review | 2020 Cliburn Festival: Beethoven at 250, Concert 5

The Verona Quartet and others illuminated masterworks in the Cliburn’s final concert of its Beethoven at 250 Festival.
by Wayne Lee Gay, TheaterJones

The closing moments of The Cliburn’s Beethoven at 250 festival brought a unique and unexpectedly radiant moment on the afternoon of March 1 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

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The concert opened with a performance in its original version for solo piano of Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, performed by 2017 Cliburn Competition silver medalist Kenny Broberg. At 26, Minnesota-born Broberg continues to prove himself one of the most intelligent and intense artists on the concert stage today; certainly, he brought new insight to a very familiar work, with a notably assertive contrast of volume levels in the first movement, an arresting aura of mystery in the second, and meticulously shaped phrasing and gorgeously fleet-fingered scale passages in the finale.

Read the full review here.

Review | 2020 Cliburn Festival: Beethoven at 250, Concert 3

The third concert of the Cliburn’s Beethoven at 250 festival had remarkable work from the guest artists.
by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, TheaterJones

The 2020 Cliburn Festival, Beethoven at 250, was a series of five concerts in celebration of his 250th birthday. All that was missing was the cake, but the fire department probably wouldn’t allow 250 candles to be lit in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Instead, the fire came from the excellent performances of a wide variety of his music in the third concert (2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29), including a sonata, a song cycle, and ending with a compositional tour de force set of variations.

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This brought us to To the Distant Beloved, Op. 98. Just seeing the name of the superb and locally based baritone David Grogan on the program assured us of a marvelous performance. And paired with the perceptive pianist Kenny Broberg, that is exactly what we got. I cannot remember a better performance that fully realized all of the mood changes in this widely varied work. Grogan, who has a perfectly focused voice that can rise to operatic heights, carefully kept it within the confines appropriate for the recital setting and the smallish room. Broberg was always with him and supportive, skillfully setting up the next phrases with his in-between solo passages.

Read the full review here.

Review | 2020 Cliburn Festival: Beethoven at 250, Concert 1

The Cliburn opened its Beethoven at 250 festival with some surprises, and fantastic playing.
by J. Robin Coffelt, TheaterJones

This year’s Cliburn Festival celebrated Beethoven at 250. It included five chamber music concerts in four days, all at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. They featured members of the Verona Quartet, both collectively and separately; pianists Kenny Broberg, Sean Chen, and Filippo Gorini; baritone David Grogan; and violinist Chloé Trevor. Each concert reflected a mood. The first, “Optimism,” began with the cheery trifle that is the Sonata for Piano Four Hands in D Major. In the four hands of Broberg and Chen, it was expressively and charmingly played.

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Wrapping up the program, Broberg offered a delicate expressiveness in the first, slow movement of the piano sonata, brought some brio when called for in the second, and demonstrated his ample technique in the third. In a world of heavy-handed pianists, Broberg delivers a welcome contrast of contemplative musicality.

Read the full review here.

Interview | Cliburn medal winner ready to face the challenges of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with CVSO

Cliburn medal winner ready to face the challenges of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with CVSO
by William Foy, Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

During his visit to Eau Claire, pianist Kenny Broberg will be displaying the talent that earned him a Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medal. And the piece he’ll be performing will be a worthy test of his abilities. Speaking by phone from Fort Worth, Texas, Broberg spoke respectfully about the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, which he will be performing Saturday with the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra.

“The challenges of the piece are huge,” he said. “It takes sort of superhuman virtuosity. It’s an extremely difficult piece. It’s hard to have the stamina, and also more importantly, it’s sort of a vision of the entire thing, the entire structure of the piece.”

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Through his success, the 26-year-old Broberg is in a good position to give advice to other young musicians. In those situations, he said, he would point to his emphasis on the music rather than the success aspect of his path.

“I think I did it the right way in that I wasn’t overwhelmed with the idea of building a career when I was too young,” he said. “I was just left alone to grow as a musician by myself and just learn to love this music. And I think that was important for me because it gave me the drive to know that was what I wanted to do as a career and it is something that I love. As a result, I think it comes from the right place.”

Read the full article here.

Review: Kenny’s recital in Sydney

Review: Kenny Broberg (Sydney International Piano Competition)
by Shirley Zhu, Limelight Magazine

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The Fantaisie in F Minor is one of Chopin’s longest solo piano works, and features elegiac passages, marches and intense melodic passages. Departing from the style and approach he took up in the Beethoven, Broberg played with an incredible proficiency and purity of execution, offering high degrees of transparency and a sense of wonder.

Franck’s Prélude, Fugue et Variation was where Broberg’s musical prowess really began to shine. When a work is repetitive and relatively easy to understand, it becomes even more necessary to craft and find details that will let the work sing. Broberg did exactly that, as the colours of the piano shone each time the melody was re-enacted across the piano range.

With its peculiar harmonic sequences and virtuosic melodic runs, Medtner’s Night Wind sonata was an exceptionally demanding conclusion to the recital. However, this was a very well-executed performance by Broberg – his intentions were clear, as were the emotions, and it was most definitely the highlight of the evening.

After this, he presented a whopping four encores, reflecting his interest in jazz and 20th century works. He presented all three of Gershwin’s piano preludes, as well as Debussy’s Golliwogg’s Cakewalk, to rapturous applause.

Read the full review here.

Kenny appears on ABC Classic (Australia) “Duet” program

Kenny Broberg will be familiar to many Australians as a standout of the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition.

Since then he’s barely unpacked his suitcase: zig zagging across the globe to compete in just about every competition you can name and taking home numerous prizes and accolades, including the silver medal at the prestigious Van Cliburn Competition.

He tells Tamara about his dedication to the piano from a very early age, what participating in so many competitions has taught him, and the surprising reasons why Claudio Arrau is one of his all-time favourite pianists. His duet with Tamara is a beautiful Australian work he performed at the Sydney competition three years ago.

Listen to the full program here.

Duet with Tamara-Anna Cislowska can be heard in Australia on ABC Classic FM, and at https://www.abc.net.au/classic/programs/duet/.

Limelight Magazine: Kenny Broberg’s back for more

Kenny Broberg’s back for more
by Angus McPherson, Limelight Magazine

For American pianist Kenny Broberg, the final round of the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition – which saw him perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 25 and Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No 2 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra – feels like a long time ago. “So much has happened in my life since then,” he tells Limelight. “I’m playing a lot more now and I’ve matured a lot as a musician in that time.”

Since placing fourth in the competition in Sydney, Broberg has gone on to win the Silver Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2017 and Third Prize in the 2019 International Tchaikovsky Competition, held in Moscow in June. He’s returning to Australia not to compete, however, but to tour concerts across New South Wales and Victoria. So how different are the demands of touring compared with those of international competitions?

“I try to approach everything all the same,” he says. “That’s easier said than done.”

Ultimately, for the pianist, it’s all performance. “You’re playing music for people,” he says. “Competitions are a little bit more stressful – and sometimes that can be a good thing – but you know sometimes I feel more freer in a normal concert situation. And I feel like I can open myself up better.”

Treating both scenarios the same is also a way to deal with the high pressure of elite competitions. “It’s important for me to remember that regardless of whether I’m playing in front of 150 people or whether I’m playing in front of 10 million people over the Internet, I’m still the same person, and I’m still the same musician,” Broberg says. “When I sit down at the piano it’s exactly the same, it’s the same thing I do every day. And for me that’s a comforting thought.”

Read the full article here.

Theater Jones: Always a Winner

Always a Winner: Cliburn Silver Medalist Kenny Broberg returns to Cowtown for an interesting program of well- and lesser-known works.
by Wayne Lee Gay, Theater Jones

Pianist Kenny Broberg, Silver Medalist of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, returned to Fort Worth Thursday night for a recital on The Cliburn concert series at the Kimbell Art Museum, and led his audience through a superbly conceived, brilliantly executed journey from darkness to light.

The program itself was unceasingly fascinating, combining little-known and well-known works in a way that effectively “sold” and underlined the genius of each item. Broberg, 25, is a son of the American Heartland, educated in Houston and Kansas City, but he is definitely worthy of the international spotlight—just like the namesake of this recital series, who also happened to be a son of the Heartland. With this concert, Broberg demonstrated a blazing intellect, impeccable technical skills, and the ability to build a strikingly imaginative and intelligent program.

Broberg opened in the insistently dark B-minor terrain of 19th-century Belgian-French composer César Franck’s Prelude, Fugue, and Finale, a work originally written for organ but skillfully and sonorously transposed for piano by early 20th-century British pianist Harold Bauer. Here, Broberg brought out the unique architecture of this masterpiece of the keyboard repertoire while demonstrating an almost miraculous array of tone qualities.

The clouds became even darker with late romantic Russian composer Nikolai Medtner’s Sonata No. 2, as stormy and exhilarating as its name implies—and, at 34 minutes, one of the most demanding monuments of the piano repertoire. Broberg coolly attacked the hundreds of thousands of notes, and convincingly ranged from the brief moments of lyricism and hints of majesty (including heart stopping dramatic pauses) to an overall dominant aura of doom. Even this jaded critic and veteran of decades in the audience of piano recitals could sense a moment to remember here.

Read the full review here.