Performance Saturday, November 22, 2014 | 8 PM

Leonidas Kavakos
Yuja Wang

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The New York Times has cited violinist Leonidas Kavakos’s playing for its “balance of pyrotechnics and lyricism,” while the San Francisco Chronicle called Yuja Wang “… quite simply the most dazzlingly, uncannily gifted pianist in the concert world today.” The superstar duo performs Schumann’s passionate Violin Sonata No. 2 and Brahms’s melodic Violin Sonata No. 2. Written during his years as a student and not published until after his death, Ravel's Violin Sonata is a charmingingly lyrical work, while Respighi's Violin Sonata in B Minor moves the heart with its haunting slow movement and quickens the pulse with daredevil fireworks in its finale.


  • Leonidas Kavakos, Violin
  • Yuja Wang, Piano


  • BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major
  • SCHUMANN Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Minor
  • RAVEL Violin Sonata (posthumous)
  • RESPIGHI Violin Sonata in B Minor

  • Encores:
  • STRAVINSKY Danse Russe from Pétrouchka
  • BRAHMS Scherzo from "FAE" Sonata

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Leonidas Kavakos

    Leonidas Kavakos, Gramophone's 2014 Artist of the Year, is recognized around the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for the virtuosity, superb musicianship, and integrity of his playing.

    Mr. Kavakos gained international attention in his teens when he won the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg competitions three years later. He has since developed close relationships with the world's major orchestras and conductors, such as the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, the London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly. In the US, Mr. Kavakos performs regularly with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

    Mr. Kavakos has established a strong profile as a conductor and has worked in that capacity with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. In the 2014-2015 season, Mr. Kavakos returns to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, and makes conducting debuts with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra.

    As a chamber musician and recitalist, Mr. Kavakos appears often at the Verbier, Montreux-Vevey, Kissinger Sommer, Edinburgh, and Salzburg festivals. For 15 years, he also curated a chamber music cycle at Athens's Megaron concert hall in his native Greece.

    Mr. Kavakos is an exclusive Decca recording artist. His first release on the label-the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with pianist Enrico Pace-was nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award and garnered Mr. Kavakos the 2013 ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of the Year award. Performances of the cycle included Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, the Salzburg Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, and in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Mr. Kavakos's second disc with Decca was of the Brahms Violin Concerto, recorded with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly. Released last spring, his most recent recording is of Brahms's violin sonatas with Yuja Wang; the duo will perform the sonatas on tour throughout Europe in the coming season.


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  • Yuja Wang

    Yuja Wang is widely recognized as one of the most important artists of her generation. She has performed with many of the world's most prestigious orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and National Symphony Orchestra in the US, and abroad with the Staatskapelle Berlin, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orquesta Nacional de España, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Tokyo's NHK Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, among others.

    Conductors with whom she has collaborated include Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Mikko Franck, Pietari Inkinen, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Antonio Pappano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yuri Temirkanov, and Michael Tilson Thomas. Ms. Wang regularly gives recitals and appears at summer chamber music festivals throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

    This season, Ms. Wang is artist-in-residence with Zurich's Tonhalle Orchestra, appearing in two weeks of performances with Lionel Bringuier and a final week with Mr. Dudamel. She will also be featured in a two-week residency with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Ms. Wang performs Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 with both the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to work with Mariss Jansons. Ms. Wang also continues her recital touring worldwide and is the featured soloist on a London Symphony Orchestra tour with Mr. Tilson Thomas.

    An exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon, Ms. Wang's catalogue includes three sonata recordings, a concerto recording with Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and a CD of music by Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff with Mr. Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. Most recently, Ms. Wang recorded the Brahms violin sonatas with Mr. Kavakos for Decca Classics.

    Ms. Wang studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing with Ling Yuan and Zhou Guangren, Mount Royal Conservatory in Calgary, and Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Gary Graffman. In 2010, she received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.


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Stravinsky's Suite Italienne
Leonidas Kavakos, Violin | Peter Nagy, Piano

At a Glance

JOHANNES BRAHMS  Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100

Composed between 1879 and 1888, Brahms’s three sonatas for violin and piano are works of mature and unostentatious mastery. In contrast to the Violin Concerto of 1878, the sonatas are predominantly intimate and conversational in tone. The warmth and intimacy of the A-Major Sonata reflect the composer’s close friendship and artistic collaboration with violinist Joseph Joachim.

ROBERT SCHUMANN  Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 121

Of the two violin sonatas that Schumann composed in the fall of 1851, No. 2 in D Minor was the more popular with contemporary audiences, probably because of its outgoing and frequently virtuosic character. Like Brahms, Schumann was diffident about writing for the violin and sought technical advice from Joachim and others. The sonata’s four movements are a tour de force for both players.

MAURICE RAVEL  Violin Sonata (posthumous)

Ravel’s bluesy Violin Sonata in G Major, premiered in 1927, has long been a staple of the chamber repertoire. Less well known is this single-movement Violin Sonata that the composer wrote three decades earlier, as a 22-year-old on-again, off-again student at the Paris Conservatoire. With its tender lyricism and adventurous harmonies, this short, beguiling work is a harbinger of Ravel’s mature style.   

OTTORINO RESPIGHI  Violin Sonata in B Minor

Respighi was still smarting from the disappointing reception of Fountains of Rome—the first of his symphonic poems and destined soon to be hugely popular—when he wrote this bracingly virtuosic sonata in 1917. The two works share a lyrical, richly textured late-Romantic idiom.  

Program Notes
Co-presented with the Onassis Cultural Center NY
This performance is part of Great Artists I, and All-Star Ensembles.

Part of