Who needs a full symphony orchestra when you have the powerhouse of instrumentalists comprising violinist Leonidas Kavakos, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax?

The trio performs the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony no.5 in C minor. The work featured in the first of the group’s Beethoven for Three series on Sony Classical. The third installment, which features Symphony no. 4 (arranged by Shai Wosner) and op. 97, ’Archduke’, was released on 15 March 2024.

The Beethoven for Three series showcases the pursuit of the essential elements of Beethoven’s musical language, presenting Beethoven’s most iconic symphonies in intimate arrangements that maintain the power and immediacy of his orchestral works.

’We all feel that being able to participate in a symphony is such a wonderful thing to do,’ says Ma.

’One of the things that has separated people since recording began is the categories that we put people in, in which chamber musicians, orchestra players, people who play concertos, people who do transcriptions, people who compose, people who conduct, are all viewed as separate categories with no overlap. That siloed thinking discourages actual creativity and collaboration between people.

’We feel that one of the things that is really important to do today is to actually go back to the first principles of music, the simple interaction between friends who want to do something together.’

Photo credit: Lawrence Sumulong

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