Kavakos, 40 this year, won important competitions as a youngster, but at 21 decided to rethink his bowing technique. It is a little like watching a 19th-century violinist. His bow arm, instead of being lifted high and pressing down, hangs relatively naturally from the shoulder. "The production of sound on the violin is very unnatural," Kavakos explains, "and modern bowing techniques can give the tone an overloud, aggressive edge. The sound needn't be loud; it just needs to carry."
His other extraordinary influence is that his father and grandfather played in a Greek folk band. "If you grow up with this sound and you see the mentality - they play for fun, improvising, challenging each other - you start thinking about how to apply it to classical music," Kavakos says. "For folk musicians, spontaneity is the only important factor - but they always apply it within their tradition. So one can be spontaneous, original, innovative, but with a certain integrity. Without limits, nothing exists!"
In October, he's playing the Dvorak Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra - part of a busy season taking him to the world's top orchestras and concert halls, and returning him to the Camerata Salzburg, of which he is principal guest conductor. If these are limits, they're the finest there are.
Leonidas Kavakos plays Berg's Violin Concerto with the BBC SO at the Prom on 25 August (020-7589 8212)Reuse content