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Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre: Leonidas Kavakos, Violin

- Classical and Cultural Connections

Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre
(Kirov Orchestra Website)
Valery Gergiev, Music Director and Conductor
Leonidas Kavakos, Violin
(Leonidas Kavakos Bio)

At Carnegie Hall

Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 5, 2005

(See December 13, 2003 Kirov Orchestra Benefit Review).

Valery Gergiev leads the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra with the Kirov Orchestra, Kirov Ballet, and Kirov Opera. He is also Principal Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. Four international music festivals have been founded by Gergiev, all of which he continues to lead. Gergiev guest conducts additional orchestras around the globe. He was born in Moscow and, at 24, won the Herbert von Karajan Conductors Competition in Berlin. His current recordings include Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich symphonies. (Program Notes).

Leonidas Kavakos was born in Athens and began violin studies at age five with his father and, in 1984, presented a debut concert at the Athens Festival. He has performed with leading orchestras and is artistic director of a chamber music series in Athens, as well, since 1992.


Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881): Prelude to Kovanshchina (1872-80, orch. Shostakovich, 1959).

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953): Symphony No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 40 (1924-25), Allegro ben articolato, Theme and Variations .

Jean Sibelius (1865-1887): Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47 (1903-04; 1905), Allegro moderato Ė Allegro molto, Adagio di molto, Allegro ma non tanto, Leonidas Kavakos, Violin.

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887): Symphony No. 2 in B Minor (1869-76), Allegro, Scherzo: Prestissimo-Allegretto-Tempo, Andante, Finale: Allegro.

Valery Gergiev is an imposing and impressive presence, with no baton and aerobic jumps, and tonight was no exception in the level of auditory and visual virtuosic genius that this internationally proclaimed Maestro and his Kirov Orchestra bring to their loyal Carnegie Hall audiences. Mussorgskyís Prelude to Kovanshchina, with its percussive embellishments and exotic score, was a fitting opening for this very Russian series presented by the Kirov. With harp, piano, strings, and celesta, Shostakovich orchestrated this Prelude with foreboding, brooding qualities.

Prokofievís Symphony No. 2 is extremely interesting, replete with the tiniest hints of his Romeo and Juliet score for ballet. Rapid, fiery horns against steady tuba, plus castanets, tambourine, and triangle, create a wild, orchestral mix. The trumpet entrance in the Allegro movement, dissonant and wild, is followed by contrasting and flowing melodic passages in Theme and Variations. The Symphony No. 2 includes unexpected turns of volume, tempo, and brief instrumental solos, and Maestro Gergievís proficiency with Prokofievís ballet repertoire seemed obvious to this writer, as he seemed to physically dance to the swirling sound.

Leonidas Kavakos, a generous gift to this energized audience, joined the Kirov onstage for Sibeliusí Violin Concerto in D Minor. Mr. Kavakosí exceptional violin introduction soon merged into an orchestral conversation in this intense and evocative work. The violin gave way to a brass entrance in the second movement with its mournful and varied tonalities, and the sight of the close proximity of soloist and Maestro was indicative of their mutual respect and artistic collaboration. The third movement swept in without a pause, and Mr. Kavakosí precise skill and professional style were again matched with Maestro Gergievís physical prowess. Many standing ovations followed, as Mr. Kavakos had won over his audience, ecstatic from the building momentum of the eclectic program.

Borodinís Symphony No. 2 in B Minor featured an entrance of soaring strings, followed by horns that resembled gothic death bells and steady percussive flashes. String flourishes undulated much like a scarf dance, and swirling dervishes of sound ensued, with the metaphor of dance ever so present. Kudos to Valery Gergiev, Leonidas Kavakos, and the Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre for this majestic and mesmerizing concert.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at