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Music

Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma Open with Ukrainian National Anthem

NEW YORK – The musical dream team of Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma last performed together at Carnegie Hall as part of the Beethoven Celebration—literally days before the Hall’s extended closure as a result of the pandemic. They returned on March 8 with Beethoven’s brilliant piano trios, showcasing their remarkable skill and musicianship as well as the joy they bring to each of their performances.

Left to right: Leonidas Kavakos, Emanuel Ax, and Yo-Yo Ma performed their All-Beethoven Program on March 8 at Carnegie Hall. Photo by Chris Lee

Exactly two years after their last performance at Carnegie Hall, the three soloists entered the historic space to thunderous applause. Yo-Yo Ma made characteristic celebratory gestures and Leonidas Kavakos took the floor to address the audience, expressing his joy for the return to the stage and gratitude for the response from the audience, since once again the concert was sold out, this time due to the measures without additional seats being added. However, the Greek musician continued, this joy can only be limited by the war and the bloodbath in Ukraine and went on to announce that the concert would begin with the National Anthem of the suffering country, something that was not clearly heard since the audience interrupted him with loud applause. As the first notes of the anthem were heard in the hall and while the audience had not been asked, everyone spontaneously stood in honor of the Ukrainian people.

Ax, the great pianist, although he did not take the floor to speak about the war, obviously has the greatest sensitivity and connection with the current tragedy of Ukraine, since he was born in Lviv in the then-Soviet Union, while both his parents are Holocaust survivors.

The concert was broadcast live on the classical radio station WQXR and we assume, since it is common, that this broadcast, if it becomes available on the internet, to contain some of Ax’s thoughts on the subject or additional statements by Kavakos.

Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma performing the National Anthem of Ukraine before their All-Beethoven Program at Carnegie Hall on March 8. Photo by Chris Lee

As the renowned musicians began playing the first notes of the first Beethoven trio on the program, the quality of the music and the atmosphere of Carnegie Hall made it seem almost as if no time at all had passed since that last pre-pandemic performance. Ax returns to Carnegie Hall on April 28 with an all Chopin program while Kavakos returned on March 14 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the premiere of an eagerly anticipated new work by award-winning composer Unsuk Chin.

More information is available online: https://www.carnegiehall.org/.

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