Leonidas Kavakos

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  • Brahms: The Piano Trios

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About Leonidas Kavakos

Greek violinist and conductor Leonidas Kavakos first came to international attention with a 1990 recording of the technically daunting original version of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto Op. 47 (1904). Born in Athens in 1967, Kavakos has a distinctive “open” sound that taps into the violin’s natural resonances, microcosmic tonal shadings, sleight-of hand articulation and quicksilver technique, evidencing an individualist prepared not to merely follow established norms. Yet it was a 1999 disc featuring Ysaÿe’s six Sonatas for Solo Violin Op. 27 (1923) that fully established Kavakos’ interpretive credentials: the inquisitive exploration of lower dynamic levels, exquisitely subtle use of vibrato (often reduced to a whispered stillness) and fearlessness in shining a light on the darker recesses of Ysaÿe’s creative imagination. Meanwhile, Kavakos had caught the conducting bug. Following several years as principal guest conductor of Camerata Salzburg (from 2001), he was appointed music director in 2007. This gave him a recorded entrée into the central repertoire, directing scintillating performances of concertos by Haydn (Orfeo, 2004), Mozart (Sony, 2006) and (more challengingly) Mendelssohn (Sony, 2008) from the violin. Kavakos is no less at home in chamber and solo music, in which his acute ear for detail proves especially beguiling. His recording of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas (Sei Solo, Sony, 2022), played at authentic (lower) pitch, while relishing the plangent sound of open strings, encapsulates his historically informed sensibilities.

Athens, Greece

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