NEW YORK – The dream team of Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma performed an enchanting and dynamic all-Beethoven concert at Carnegie Hall in the Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage on March 4. This was the first of three concerts featuring these superstars of classical music, marking the centenary of Isaac Stern’s birth and paying tribute to the legendary violinist and the ensembles he anchored, which included pianist Eugene Istomin and cellist Leonard Rose.
The all-Beethoven program included an otherworldly cello sonata from the composer’s late period, a gentle violin sonata dedicated to his patron Archduke Rudolf, and an intense trio that helped redefine contemporary notions of chamber music. The packed house was also treated to a delightful encore piece by Schubert.
The concert opened with Emanuel Ax on piano and Yo-Yo Ma on cello for Beethoven’s Seven Variations on “Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen” after Mozart’s Die Zauberflote, Wo0 46, a charming and lyrical piece highlighting the effortless playing of these masters, perfectly matched in their intensity and at the height of their skills.
Ax and Ma then performed the enchanting Cello Sonata No. 4 in C Major followed by Kavakos joining Ax for the Violin Sonata No. 10 in G Major which dazzled the audience as the talented artists play so skillfully and seamlessly together.
Throughout the intermission, audience members raved about the concert and especially about the Greek violinist with one woman telling her friend that Kavakos “just blew my mind” with his tremendous performance.
Following the intermission, Ax, Kavakos, and Ma performed the Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3 and left the audience riveted to the beautiful sounds they created together. The gifted artists received a prolonged standing ovation for their skill and artistry performing the beautiful, soul-stirring pieces by Beethoven, communicating the composer’s intensity and emotion while adding their own expressiveness, wit, and joy to each note. The artists returned to the stage to the delight of the audience to perform a piece by Schubert for the encore which truly made the concert an unforgettable event.
About the Artists
Born and raised in Athens in a musical family, Kavakos was named Gramophone Artist of Year in 2014 and was awarded Denmark’s Leonie Sonning Music Prize in 2017. Previous winners include Igor Stravinsky (1959), Leonard Bernstein (1965), Benjamin Britten (1968), and Anne-Sophie Mutter (2001). He plays the “Willemotte” Stradivarius violin of 1734.
By age 21, Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius (1985), the Paganini (1988), and the Naumburg (1988). This success led to his making the first recording in history of the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903–04), which won the 1991 Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award. He has since appeared regularly as a soloist with the Vienna, Berlin, New York, and Los Angeles philharmonic orchestras; London, Boston, and Chicago symphony orchestras; and the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Philadelphia Orchestras.
Born in Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. He made his New York debut in the Young Concert Artists Series and in 1974 won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. Mr. Ax won the Michaels Award of the Young Concert Artists in 1975, followed four years later by the Avery Fisher Prize. Highlights of the 2019-2020 season include a tour of European summer festivals with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and longtime collaborative partner Bernard Haitink, a tour of Asia with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, U.S. concerts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Lahav Shani, and three concerts with Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma. Further participation in Carnegie Hall’s Beethoven Celebration will culminate in a solo recital in May.
Born in Paris, Yo-Yo Ma spent his school years in New York City and was a child prodigy, performing from the age of four and a half. He graduated from The Juilliard School and Harvard University, and has performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world. He has recorded more than 90 albums and received 18 Grammy Awards. A United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006, Ma was awarded The Glenn Gould Prize in 1999, the National Medal of Arts in 2001, Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and the Polar Music Prize in 2012, among his many honors.
Kavakos, Ax, and Ma will be performing again at Carnegie Hall on March 6 and 8.
More information is available online: carnegiehall.org.