Kavakos, Wang, and Brahms

May 19, 2014

Leonidas Kavakos and Yuja Wang join forces for the remarkable music for violin and piano by Brahms.


A short sampling of great duos: John and Abigail Adams. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Tom Brady and Bill Belichik.

Each of those examples seems so right, so natural, so ... complete. It's as though each half of each duo was meant for the other. The best teamwork between two collaborators leaves us with the impression that it was easy, whether that was the reality behind the scenes or not.

In the realm of music, Yuja Wang and Leonidas Kavakos wouldn't seem to be the most natural pairing. Wang, age 27, is a comet, blazing into whatever venue is on her itinerary with technique that brings a crystalline quality and interpretive fire to the most daunting works in the piano repertoire. As a concerto soloist, her presence on stage is magnetic, in no way overshadowed by the world's most virtuosic ensembles. She dazzles.

Kavakos, 46, commands attention through a different kind of intensity. It's slow-burn, deeply felt, and thoughtful. His musical vision can't be channeled through the violin alone, which has led him to the dual role of soloist and conductor, sometimes simultaneously.

Like many great musical collaborations of our time, this one got its start in the Swiss Alps. The summer music festival scene there seems to spark truly insightful partnerships. Usually the performances at Lugano, Lucerne, Gstaad, and the other festivals that dot the countryside live only in the moment, evaporating into the thin mountain air once the applause has died down and the performers have scattered to various other parts of the globe. But in the case of Kavakos and Wang, the Verbier Festival was the start of a more substantial musical partnership, resulting in a new recording of music by Brahms.

And when considered through the filter of that particular composer, this collaboration isn't so unexpected after all. There is no doubt that Brahms was a passionate man, a true Romantic. And yet his work as a composer developed slowly, never in a flash of light, but rather in a glow that grew imperceptably at first before becoming one of the guiding stars of the century in which he lived.

Tune in to 99.5 WCRB all week to hear Brahms with Leonidas Kavakos and Yuja Wang.

Each of these artists has visited Boston in recent months as a guest of the Boston Symphony Orchestra:

listenHear Yuja Wang with the BSO

listenHear Leonidas Kavakos with the BSO

To purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.


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