Leonidas Kavakos
Music and Opera reporting on is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Review: Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 | Dallas Symphony Orchestra | Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center

Double Duty

Dallas Symphony Artist-in-Residence Leonidas Kavakos appeared as guest violinist and conductor, with mixed results.

published Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Photo: Marco Borggreve
Leonidas Kavakos


Dallas — Leonidas Kavakos, this year’s Artist-in-Residence with the Dallas Symphony, is certainly one of the best violinists in the world. Kavakos’ spellbinding performance of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 last week and his sensitive, beautifully ornamented Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 this week are bound to be remembered as highlights of this Dallas Symphony Orchestra season.

As a conductor, however, he is less apt, and the Dallas Symphony succeeded in spite of him rather than because of him in their performance Thursday evening. As was often the case in Mozart’s lifetime, Kavakos was the de facto conductor during his performance of the concerto—as well as for the Mozart Symphony No. 31, “Paris,” and Dvořák Symphony No. 7 that followed. Conducting while playing is a tricky proposition at best, and usually involves the concertmaster doing a fair share of the real conducting, keeping the orchestra together, shaping phrases, and so forth—after all, the soloist and erstwhile conductor is facing the wrong direction, and also, you know, playing a concerto. Most of the time, this kind of musical multitasking is ill-advised, although with an eighteenth-century concerto and a reduced orchestra, it can work. The orchestra operates essentially as a chamber ensemble, looking to one another rather than to their ostensible leader. And so it was Thursday night. Kavakos’ performance of the concerto was certainly commendable—he added some novel ornamentation and brief cadenzas that added interest to this oft-played standard, and his brilliant tone filled the hall. But he didn’t actually do much visible conducting.

Kavakos moved to the podium and exchanged bow for baton for Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony. According to the program notes, astonishingly, the DSO had not performed this symphony since 1968. There are certainly reasons for this—other of Mozart’s symphonies probably have more audience appeal, and the “Paris” is technically rather tricky, or indeed very tricky when the third and final movement, marked just “Allegro,” is taken at the lightning pace that Kavakos chose on Thursday. The orchestra sounded remarkably solid, considering—Kavakos used relatively large string sections, by Classical-era standards, of 12 first violins, 10 seconds, eight violas, six cellos, and four basses, which can make ensemble trickier. And his conducting, with large but somewhat mystifying gestures, didn’t seem to offer much support.

Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 also fared surprisingly well—the orchestra sounded great, with remarkable ensemble and unified phrasing. Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe, and David Heyde, Acting Principal Horn, both offered lovely solos. But I’m not sure how much they were aided by Kavakos. He is a genius of a violinist, and many brilliant violinists eventually become excellent conductors. He’s just not quite there yet. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Double Duty
Dallas Symphony Artist-in-Residence Leonidas Kavakos appeared as guest violinist and conductor, with mixed results.
by J. Robin Coffelt

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :