this week, I had the pleasure to see Greek violin virtuoso, Kavakos, play Sibelius violin concerto with the the Philadelphia Orchestra. I went to the concert twice, once sitting in the front row, the other sitting on tier 3. Kavakos has a long history with this concerto, having won the Sibelius competition before the age of 21.
At the beginning of the concerto, the subtle orchestra accompaniment and the tender solo remind me of the wind blowing, which Kavakos brought to life with no grit in his sound. This movement has many technical challenges which Kavakos tackled with apparent ease. It was clear he had made good musical choices as well, although I believe those choices would have been enhanced if he had shown the phrases with his movement. Instead, he maintained a rigid and stiff form for the whole movement.
The second movement of the Sibelius concerto is meant to invoke emotion and to convey images. Although Kavakos’ performance was technically flawless, he did not convey the strong emotions I wished for. The orchestral accompaniment was trying to draw this out of kavakos by playing more musically themselves, but his performance was lackluster and slightly dull.
The third movement is a technical nightmare, which Kavakos dealt with beautifully. He made it sound easy, while loosening himself up to enjoy the performance and show his medical ideas more. This was by far his most successful movement, combining technical accuracy with beauty and flash.
Overall his performance was good, but only the third movement stuck out to me as being fantastic.