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ARTICLE: Yuja Wang and Leonidas Kavakos to share stage in La Jolla Music Society concert

San Diego Union-Tribune

Martina Schimitschek
November 5, 2021

The pianist and violinist may seem mismatched, but the two have a long-lasting partnership and on-stage chemistry.

She is known for her dazzling style in her artistry, performances and fashion. He has been called insightful and introspective.

Both are superstar soloists who will bring their extraordinary talents together for a La Jolla Music Society concert at the Balboa Theatre on Wednesday.

Pianist Yuja Wang and violinist Leonidas Kavakos may seem superficially mismatched, but the two have a long-lasting partnership and an on-stage chemistry that has resulted in several tours and recordings.

Wang, 34, a native of Beijing, started performing on the piano at age 6. Her mother was a dancer and her father a percussionist. She went on to a conservatory in Calgary, Canada, at 14 and then continued her education at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 2007, Wang landed in the international spotlight when she stepped in for piano legend Martha Argerich as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Now one of the hottest tickets in classical music, Wang is instantly recognized for the forceful beauty of her performances as well as for her fashion sense, wearing eye-popping tight minidresses and sky-high stilettos not often seen in the classical music world. In 2017, she told The Guardian newspaper, “… if the music is beautiful and sensual, why not dress to fit? It’s about power and persuasion.”

Like Wang, Kavakos, who was born in Athens, Greece, grew up in a musical household. His grandfather played violin and lute in a folk music band. His father started in folk music and became a classical violinist, and his mother was a pianist. By the time he was 21, Kavakos had won major violin competitions with his technical command of the instrument and soulful interpretations.

The 54-year-old, who plays a 1724 Stradivarius, has also made a name as a conductor, leading orchestras around the world including the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.

On Wednesday, the duo will play Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in E Major and Sonata No. 1 in B Minor, as well as the Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 134 by Shostakovich and Sonata No. 2 in E Minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 36A by Busoni.

Bach’s pieces are part of a series of six sonatas he composed for violin and keyboard, which in the 18th century meant the harpsicord, during a time he was writing secular music for Prinz Leopold of Cöthen.

Shostakovich’s work was written in 1968 for Soviet violinist David Oistrakh’s 60th birthday and represents Shostakovich’s later period, which is often intense and dark. Bosoni’s second violin sonata, from 1898, is one of the few pieces of chamber music the composer wrote and is dedicated to one of his closest friends.

This is the second time Wang and Kavakos will perform in a concert for the La Jolla Music Society at the Balboa Theatre. Their previous performance was in February 2017.

“To see these two remarkable musicians share the stage will be absolutely thrilling for our audience,” said Leah Rosenthal, La Jolla Music Society’s artistic director. “Even with their own prolific solo careers, Yuja Wang and Leonidas Kavakos remain fully committed to their artistic partnership, and we look forward to welcoming them back to LJMS on this exciting new program.”