Leonidas Kavakos and Yuja Wang play Brahms in Rome

 Santa Cecilia Hall, Auditorium Parco della Musica – 29 November 2013

I recently watched a fun interview on YouTube with Chinese concert pianist Yuja Wang in which she answered 10 rapid fire questions. When asked who inspired her most she replied “right now I would say Kavakos. I just had a rehearsal with him and I was very, very inspired”, whilst her favourite composers were named as “Stravinsky, Brahms and Chopin...and Ligeti.” Less than a year since her last sensational performance in the capital, Yuja Wang was back on stage in Rome last night, and true to the answers she gave in the interview, this time she appeared in the company of Greek violinist and conductor Leonidas Kavakos, playing a programme of all three Brahms violin sonatas.

My autographed programme!
Kavakos and Yuja are immensely charismatic virtuosos in their own right, yet from the second they appeared on stage it was patently clear that there would be no tug of egos here - the firebrand Yuja was even dressed slightly more demurely for the occasion in a full length indigo gown (with no dramatic costume changes mid-programme to upstage the maestro with whom she shared the stage). Instead, what emerged was an easy complicity between these two very different, yet highly communicative performers, in a perfectly balanced musical dialogue, with Yuja exhibiting a new tenderness and warmth in her playing, which proved an exquisite foil to Kavakos' lyrical depth of expression and sweet, singing tonality. Of the three, the third and final sonata was the most passionate and fiery, bringing rapturous applause and cries of “Bravi!” from the audience at its close.

The pair were back on stage for an utterly delightful encore – Brahms again with the Scherzo in C minor for violin and piano - a perfect finale to showcase the strengths of both performers allowing for brief displays of individual bravura. I was thrilled to meet both musicians after the show at a CD signing session in the Auditorium bookshop, where the easy rapport between the two appeared to continue off stage, as they chatted and joked with fans. A wonderful evening!

Full Programme:
Sonata n. 1 op. 78
Sonata n. 2 op. 100
Sonata n. 3 op. 108
Scherzo in C minor for violin and piano