Accompanied by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (DRSO), Greek violinist and conductor Leonidas Kavakos performs Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, a piece composed in 1878 and dedicated to the composer’s friend, the Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim (8 June 1831 – 15 August 1907). Conductor: Fabio Luisi. Recorded in 2017.
Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto
The piece is scored for solo violin and orchestra consisting of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons; 2 natural horns crooked in D, and 2 natural horns crooked in E, 2 trumpets in D, timpani, and strings.
The work was premiered in Leipzig on January 1, 1879, by Joachim.
The piece follows the standard concerto form, with three movements in the pattern quick–slow–quick:
- Allegro non troppo (D major)
- Adagio (F major)
- Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace — Poco più presto (D major)
Born in October 1967 in Athens into a musical family, Leonidas Kavakos is a Greek violinist and conductor. As a violinist, he has won prizes at several international violin competitions, including the Sibelius, Paganini, and Indianapolis competitions.
Kavakos first learned to play the violin when he was five and later enrolled in the Hellenic Conservatory, studying with Stelios Kafantaris. An Onassis Foundation scholarship enabled him to attend master classes with Josef Gingold at Indiana University. He made his concert debut at the Athens Festival in 1984. In 1985, he won the International Sibelius Competition in Helsinki, and in 1986 won the silver medal in the Indianapolis International Violin Competition.
Today, he is recognized across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, acclaimed for his matchless technique, his captivating artistry, and his superb musicianship as well as for the integrity of his playing. He works with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and is a frequent recitalist in the world’s premier recital halls and festivals. He is an exclusive recording artist with Sony Classical.
The three important mentors in his life have been Stelios Kafantaris, Josef Gingold and Ferenc Rados. By the age of 21, Leonidas Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg competitions in 1988. This success led to him recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/4), the first recording of this work in history, and which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991.
In the 2018-19 season, as Artist in Residence with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kavakos will appear as both soloist and conductor when he performs Beethoven Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 7, and will also perform Shostakovich Violin Concerto with Mariss Jansons and Berg Violin Concerto with Daniel Harding. He will also appear as soloist with orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Israel Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony. He will also make a short tour of China including recitals and with concerto performances in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.
Leonidas Kavakos has built a strong profile as a conductor and has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Gürzenich Orchester, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Filarmonica Teatro La Fenice, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and Danish Radio Symphony orchestras.
Leonidas Kavakos signed an exclusive recording contract with Sony Classical in June 2018. This signifies a welcome return to the label as Kavakos previously recorded the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and Mozart’s Violin Concertos, conducting and playing with Camerata Salzburg. More recently, Kavakos joined Yo-Yo Ma and Emmanuel Ax for a highly successful recording of Brahms Trios for the label.
Kavakos’ extensive discography also includes Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, which was awarded the ECHO Klassik ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’. This was followed by the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly, Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang, and Virtuoso. He was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014. He has recorded for Decca, BIS, and ECM.
Leonidas Kavakos was the winner of the prestigious Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2017. This prize is Denmark’s highest musical honor and is awarded annually to an internationally recognized composer, instrumentalist, conductor, or singer. Previous winners include Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Dmitri Shostakovich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, György Ligeti, Alfred Brendel, Daniel Barenboim, and Sir Simon Rattle.
He plays the ‘Willemotte’ Stradivarius violin of 1734 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S.P. Greiner, E. Haahti and D. Bagué.