When he made his North American debut at the Arlington Theatre as a soloist with the Santa Barbara Symphony back in 1986, Leonidas Kavakos was a rising 19-year-old prodigy. Today he stands in the foremost rank of concert violinists, and fortunately for us, he returns to our city with some frequency. On Friday, January 25, he’ll be at UCSB’s Campbell Hall as part of the Arts & Lectures classical music season. In collaboration with pianist Enrico Pace, Kavakos will tackle an ambitious program that stretches from Beethoven through Prokofiev and Bartók to the Romanian composer George Enescu. In fact, he will close his program with Enescu’s Violin Sonata No. 3, Op. 25, the same piece that recent A&L visitor Patricia Kopatchinskaja deployed to devastating effect at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall in December.
Kavakos keeps some pretty amazing musical company. He was last here in 2017 for a recital with fellow superstar Yuja Wang, and later that same year he released an album of Brahms trios on which he shared billing with Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax. It’s an extraordinary privilege that our community has the opportunity to experience the best musicians in the world without leaving town, and Kavakos is as good as it gets.