Thursday, 27 August 2015

Kavakos, Yuja Wang Edinburgh Festival

From Juliet Williams in Edinburgh

Edinburgh had the honour today of a return visit from the virtuosic Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, who so excelled in the Szymanowski second violin concerto in 2013 with the LSO under Gergiev – a truly electrifying performance. Today he played the three Brahms violin sonatas with pianist Yuja Wang in this morning's Queens Hall chamber recital (also broadcast live on BBC Radio Three and available via the iPlayer).

The consecutive playing of the sonatas displayed the progression of the composer's work in this form; the first being at times sunny in mood and at other times wistful; the second anticipating the arrival of a loved one; the third with more dramatic tension and on a larger scale, in four movements not three. All are warm and lyrical  and draw on extracts from the composer's songs. Kavakos is a remarkable performer and it was a delight to have the opportunity to see him live here again. He particularly excelled in the allegro amabile opening movement of the second sonata and in the adagio of the Third.

Ms Wang's talents came more fully to the fore later in the performance and most especially in their encore, the Brahms scherzo in C minor from the F-A-E sonata, where she displayed considerable panache and flare. Her playing was also showcased to advantage in the third, playful movement of the dramatic third sonata which closed the concert. She will join the San Francisco Symphony on Friday in Beethoven's 4th piano concerto, and I am looking forward to seeing her perform as a soloist. Further reports will follow here. They are also performing together at the Proms on Monday 31st August, this time in Bartok's 2ndpiano concerto. Leonidas Kavakos and Yuja Wang have recorded these sonatas  by Brahms together on the Decca label. Today's performance can be heard again on the BBC iPlayer for thirty days.

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