Who are the best live violinists

Leonidas Kavakos: Artist in Residence

Status: 04/28/2020 11:00 a.m.
Leonidas Kavakos can be experienced in the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Kiel, Wismar and Lübeck and during the residency he doesn’t just show himself as a virtuoso violinist!

He is one of the most sought-after violin artists today: the Greek Leonidas Kavakos. In the 2020/2021 season "the violinist is the violinist" Artist in Residence of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.

It is hard to believe. But the numbers are clear: Leonidas Kavakos' North German debut was almost a quarter of a century ago. It was in 1996 that the Greek violinist made his first guest appearance at NDR, with the Second Violin Concerto by Béla Bartók. In the Laeiszhalle, which at that time was still called the Musikhalle, with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, where nobody could have suspected anything of their future home in the Hafencity at that time.

"Kavakos lived up to the demands at all times and was able to celebrate a lasting success," noted the critic from the Hamburger Abendblatt about the performance in a Hanseatic manner. Such benevolent, encouraging reactions have long since given way to unanimous cheers.

Leonidas Kavakos - the "violinist the violinist"

The aspiring violinist in his late twenties has become a seasoned man who is by far the best-known classical artist in his country and one of the most renowned musicians of our time. The international string magazine "The Strad" has ennobled him as "the violinist of the violinist" and thus once again emphasized himself among the best in his field; In 2017 he was awarded the Léonie Sonning Prize of the Danish foundation of the same name, one of the most important and highly endowed cultural prizes in Europe.

As a soloist, Kavakos is a regular guest on the world's major concert stages between Berlin, Chicago and Tokyo. In his second job as a conductor, he leads top orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.

World star with an unmistakable signature

Despite his change from talent to world star, despite a career that has taken him steeply upwards, Leonidas Kavakos' handwriting remains unchanged. He combines an extraordinary technical sovereignty with a comprehensive understanding of music, which is by no means taken for granted. Kavakos looks far beyond the edge of the violin solo part.

This attitude - an indispensable basis for his activity as a conductor - was decisively promoted by the Hungarian pianist and music teacher Ferenc Rados, whom Leonidas Kavakos names as a formative influence. "I found his advice particularly valuable because he is not a violinist!" Emphasized Kavakos in an interview with "The Strad". "Listening to him gave me the opportunity to approach the music in a different way. Strings tend to focus on playing, which can sometimes get in the way of interpretation."

His ability amazes the public and professionals alike

One thing should of course not be ignored: Leonidas Kavakos speaks here from the luxurious demeanor of a world-class talent who does not seem to know any manual difficulties. The legendary violin professor Josef Gingold - among other things teacher of Joshua Bell - once suspected technical cheating after listening to a live recording of Paganini's fifth violin caprice with Kavakos.

Because he just couldn't believe that a violinist could paint the demanding piece in a concert so quickly and with such impressive flaws. Which was actually the case. This ability to amaze the audience is also part of Kavakos' handwriting.