The idea of uniting the special sound of string instruments by Antonio Stradivari in a single ensemble was already current during the legendary luthier’s own lifetime, as documented by requests for “quartets” of his instruments. From the Spanish royal court, he even received a commission for six violins, two violas and a cello. The Philharmonic Stradivari Soloists of Berlin bring together in one ensemble eleven of the master’s instruments – along with two complete quartets, three further violins – probably the world’s largest Stradivari collection heard together in concert. This extraordinary undertaking would not be possible without the generous support of the Habisreutinger Stradivari Foundation, whose collection is represented here by six instruments (two violins, both violas and both cellos). It was an initiative from Japan that led to the ensemble’s formation in 1993 under the name “Stradivari Summit”. Ever since then it has played every two years in that country to constantly sold-out houses. It nourishes its steadily growing repertoire by selecting works from the string orchestra literature that can be shown to fullest advantage with these unique instruments. Since 1999, the Philharmonic Stradivari Soloists have been directed by Matthew Hunter.