Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Breaking: Decca signs chocolate violinist

News just in: Decca has signed up the Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos - on JDCMB long nicknamed "the chocolate violinist" (even though I am sure the luxury confectionary brand Leonidas is really nothing to do with him). It's a super choice: a mature, significant musician who has a style and sound of his own yet always puts musical integrity first.

Over the years I've loved every concert of his that I have attended - Tchaikovsky, Korngold and Stravinsky concerti among them, as well as startlingly wonderful Enescu and Schumann at the Wigmore Hall, countless delicacies in Verbier and a good few inspiring interviews. Kavakos has always struck me as one of those artists in whom all the synapses seem to work unimpeded: there's a direct flow from imagination to Strad to listener's ear. He's an unconventional player - he keeps his bowing elbow unusually relaxed, for one thing, and the sound is often gentle, refined, detailed. Inspirations, if I remember aright, include accounts and pictures of Joseph Joachim, plus the folk style of Kavakos's father's traditional Greek band. Also nice to see a major company signing an artist for substance ahead of photogenic concerns.

According to the press release, he'll be recording core repertoire: Beethoven sonatas, the Brahms concerto and the complete solo Bach.