Tim Homfray hears a live-streamed performance from London’s LSO St Luke’s on 7 January 2021
This concert, with the Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Greek revolution, and began with a rendition of the Greek national anthem. The LSO, each player in splendid isolation, formed an archipelago around Simon Rattle (is he easy to follow from behind?), while the brass players performed from the balcony. As is usual these days, there was no audience; the concert was streamed by Marquee TV.
Kavakos played Berg’s Violin Concerto with a keen, refined sweetness of tone, present from the gentle searching opening, maintained as his playing gained steadily in purpose, and carrying through all the vicissitudes and formidable technical demands of Berg’s score. The bewitching sound was often complemented by delicacy, heard in the light scherzando dance of the Allegretto section of the first movement and the free reflective musings which followed, high on the E string and skipping through light staccato arpeggios.
Kavakos was fierce at the outset of the second movement, emphatic but always eloquent. After deftly executing the chordal counterpoint of the cadenza, his build-up to the climax was tremendous. The following chorale, so simple at first, built to real passion before subsiding to ethereal calm. This was a beautiful, transcendent performance. To follow, Rattle and the LSO gave a majestic account of Schubert’s ‘Great’ C major Symphony.