“The playing is the thing, and it is spectacular. Kavakos’ virtuosity is stunning but not showy. He tosses off the most hair-raising pyrotechnics and sound effects…with ease and relish.”
“Kavakos ranks among the greatest instrumentalists of our time.”
“With a big, rich, gleaming tone, Kavakos had all the ardor and virtuosity one could wish…”
Dallas Morning News
“Kavakos’ violin playing has always been astoundingly virtuosic and blazingly insightful… I’m happy to admit Kavakos to the pantheon of musician-philosophers.”
“The highlight of the afternoon was Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto, which got a masterful performance from the Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos. His technique is immaculate: he navigated all of the concerto’s virtuoso hurdles without too much apparent effort. Even more impressive were the lucid, singing tone of his playing and his elegant phrasing.”
“In a striking and original interpretation of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony, Kavakos stripped this extravagant work of all indulgences to deliver a lean, purposeful, and deeply absorbing performance. The sense that something different was about to happen was apparent right away. From a quietly insistent opening phrase to an early cadenza, Kavakos staked out his territory with a woody, fibrous tone – reminiscent of a fine baritone’s probing, amber-toned voice – that seemed to stride into the score instead of sailing across its swooping surfaces.”
San Francisco Classical Voice
Leonidas Kavakos is recognized as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. By age 21, Kavakos had won three major competitions: the Sibelius (1985), Paganini, and Naumburg competitions (1988). This success led to his recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/4), the first recording of this work in history, which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991. Kavakos was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014, and is the 2017 winner of the Léonie Sonning Music Prize, Denmark’s most prestigious musical honor.
Highlights of Kavakos’ 2019-20 season include the Sony release of his recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto play-conducting with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and a U.S. tour with Emmanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma performing Beethoven trios, concluding with three concerts at Carnegie Hall. In North America this season, he performs with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Montreal, as well as with the Munich Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in Boston. In Europe, he performs with the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, and Orchestre de Paris, among others. He performs in Asia with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, and Taiwan Philharmonic, and will give recitals in Shanghai and Xinghai.
Kavakos has developed close relationships with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, and more recently, he has also built a strong profile as a conductor. This season, he will conduct the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Czech Philharmonic, and the Rai National Symphony Orchestra in Torino.
Kavakos has an exclusive contract with Sony Classical, for whom he has previously recorded the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Mozart’s Violin Concertos play-conducting with the Camerata Salzburg. In 2017, he joined Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax for a recording of Brahms Trios, and in fall 2019, he releases a new album of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto play-conducting with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming recording projects include the complete Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas. Kavakos’ other recordings include Virtuoso, Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang, Brahms Violin Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, and the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, all on the Decca label.
Kavakos plays the ‘Willemotte’ Stradivarius violin of 1734.