Leonidas Kavakos has established himself as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. International recognition first came while Kavakos was still in his teens, winning the Sibelius Competition in 1985 and, three years later, the Paganini Competition.
Kavakos now works with the world’s major orchestras and conductors – Vienna Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Budapest Festival, La Scala Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been invited as tour soloist with the Leipzig Gewandhaus/Chailly, Vienna Philharmonic/Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw/Jansons, and in the 2012/13 season, he is the focus of the London Symphony Orchestra’s UBS Soundscapes LSO Artist Portrait and is also the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Artist in Residence.
With his probing and analytical approach, coupled with a rare virtuosity, Kavakos brings authority and depth of expression to the great concerti of the 19th and 20th centuries that are the mainstay of his repertoire. However, he is also known for his interpretations of Bach and Mozart, as well as of works such as Dutilleux's L’arbre des songes and Hartmann's Concerto funèbre.
Kavakos is a committed chamber musician and recitalist and is a favoured artist at the Verbier, Montreux-Vevey, Bad Kissingen and Edinburgh festivals and at the Salzburger Festival, where in August 2012, together with Enrico Pace, he played the complete violin sonatas by Beethoven. He and Pace have recorded the sonatas for Decca Classics, released in January 2013, and the cycle was also recorded as part of a television documentary about Kavakos by the Bayerischer Rundfunk, to be broadcast in autumn 2013. In the 2012/13 season, Leonidas Kavakos and Emanuel Ax play the Beethoven sonata cycle in the Musikverein, Vienna, as well as a single Beethoven sonata programme in Berlin. He also performs the cycle with Enrico Pace at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. In chamber music, Kavakos’s distinguished partners include Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Antoine Tamestit, Nikolai Lugansky, Denis Kozhukhin, and Yuja Wang, with whom he will give a series of recitals in Europe in the 2013/14 season.
Leonidas Kavakos is increasingly recognised as a conductor of considerable gift and musicianship. He has worked as conductor/soloist with the Boston Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester (Berlin), Budapest Festival Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, La Scala Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Conducting debuts in the 2012/13 season include the Finnish Radio Symphony and the Vienna Symphony orchestras, and he returned to the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in October 2012, where he appeared in a variety of programmes in a special series Focus Kavakos.
Kavakos is an exclusive Decca recording artist, and his first release on the label is the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, described by The Strad as a “masterly set that combines Beethovenian ferocity and gentleness”. Kavakos already has a distinguished discography with a number of award-winning recordings – his Mendelssohn Violin Concerto disc on Sony Classical receiving an ECHO Klassik award for Best Concerto Recording 2009. Also on Sony, he recorded live Mozart’s five violin concerti and Symphony No.39 with Camerata Salzburg. In 1991, shortly after winning the Sibelius Competition, Kavakos won a Gramophone Award for the first ever recording of the original version of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (1903/04), recorded on BIS. For ECM, he has released recordings of sonatas by Enescu and Ravel with pianist Péter Nagy, and a recording of works by Bach and Stravinsky.