Classical review: London Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra performing at the Usher Hall. Picture: TSPL
London Symphony Orchestra performing at the Usher Hall. Picture: TSPL
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IT’S difficult not to have mixed feelings when a soloist of Leonidas Kavakos’s stature decides to take up conducting.

London Symphony Orchestra - Usher Hall, Edinburgh


As one of the finest violinists of his generation and a consummate musician, Kavakos has much to offer the orchestral world as he so ably demonstrated in his LSO debut. His decision to conduct and perform in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for piano, violin and cello will be seen by his many admirers as a welcome sign that he’s not intending to give up his solo career just yet.

With the piano trio effectively the soloist in this multi-layered work, Kavakos had the somewhat schizophrenic task of contributing to the intimate chamber relationship with cellist Tim Hugh and pianist Enrico, while also keeping track of the bigger picture. This kept everyone on their toes, especially the orchestra who had to listen even more closely and intently. Although there were inspired moments in this tricky work, overall it never quite gelled and some of the entries and transitional passages would have been slicker with a dedicated conductor.

Kavakos really came into his own in Beethoven’s Overture: Prometheus and Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) when he was able to focus entirely on the orchestra. A fluid, physical conductor, Kavakos used his body to clearly articulate what he wanted the music to do, encouraging the LSO to reach right into the heart of Beethoven’s music. Consequently, the symphony was a glorious profusion of colours and textures, all perfectly balanced rhythmically and harmonically in this enthralling interpretation.

Seen on 04.06.14