The Korea Herald


Seoul Philharmonic to perform Mahler, Mendelssohn

Leonidas Kavakos to bring prize-winning take on Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto

By Korea Herald

Published : Aug. 15, 2013 - 19:31

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Violinist Leonidas Kavakos will join the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra led by Chung Myung-whun on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 at Seoul Arts Center, bringing his highly acclaimed interpretation of Mendelssohn to Korean classical music lovers.

This is the second time Kavakos is appearing with the SPO; he performed the Brahms Violin Concerto with the orchestra in 2007.

Kavakos, lauded as the star of the new generation of virtuosos, will be performing Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 on both evenings. This will be a perfect chance to hear the Greek violinist perform the piece for which he received the prestigious ECHO Klassik recording of the year prize in 2009.
Violinist Leonidas Kavakos will perform with Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30. ( SPO) Violinist Leonidas Kavakos will perform with Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30. ( SPO)

Kavakos was awarded the prize given by the German Music Industry Association’s Cultural Institute for his recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 with the Camerata Salzburg under the Sony label.

Premiered in 1845, the concerto is Mendelssohn’s last large orchestral piece and a familiar one, being one of the most frequently performed violin concertos by any composer.

While the piece follows the standard form of three movements ― Allegro molto appassionato, Andante, Allegretto non troppo-Allegro molto vivace ― the Romantic composer introduced a number of innovations that were a clear departure from the Classical concerto form.

The most noticeable of the innovations is the entry of the soloist at the onset of the piece. The soloist’s melody is followed later by the orchestra, which further develops the theme. This is a complete reversal of the standard Classical concerto form where the orchestra opens with the theme followed by the solo violinist who would play with the orchestra, in effect, the same theme.

Kavakos enjoys the distinction of winning several prestigious awards at a young age. Following his concert debut at the Athens Festival in 1984, he won the International Sibelius Competition in 1985 at 18 and first prizes at the Naumburg Competition in 1988 and the Paganini Competition in 1988.

Highly acclaimed for his interpretation of 19th century and early 20th century concertos, Kavakos is also gaining recognition for his performance of modern music. He has the distinction of being permitted to record Sibelius’ little known Violin Concerto in D minor under the BIS label by Sibelius’ heirs in 1991.

Meanwhile, those who missed SPO’s performance of the Mahler cycle, completed over 2010 and 2011, will have an opportunity to hear the much acclaimed performance once again as the SPO performs Mahler Symphony No. 9 in D major. The performance will be recorded live for the orchestra’s seventh album for the Deutsche Grammophon label. SPO signed with the international music label in 2011 to record two albums a year for five years, becoming the first Asian orchestra to sign an exclusive contract with the prestigious label.

By Kim Hoo-ran (