What sounds more blissful than a Stradivarius? Eleven Stradivari together, of course! However, it is no easy task to get them all together at the same time in the same concert hall, for those instrumental gems are rare, spread all over the globe and not exactly inexpensive. But thanks to the Philharmonic Stradivari Soloists, fans of classical music can regularly enjoy listening to an entire ensemble of string instruments by this most famous of violin makers.
With passion and an eagerness to experiment
Antonio Stradivari lived and worked in the second half of the 17th and early 18th century in Cremona, the centre of Italian violin making at the time. Experimental, technically brilliant and full of passion for his profession, the student of Nicolò Amati developed violin models that far exceeded anything heard before in terms of beauty of sound. Even today, his instruments set the standard. No violin maker can ignore this great idol: the choice of wood, shape and curvature of the resonator, the design of the F-holes and the art of varnishing are still regarded as pioneering. Stradivari lived a very productive life and made a fortune. At the beginning of the 19th century, his instruments became coveted collector’s items that – then as now – demanded high sums. Approximately 650 violins, violas and cellos of Stradivari's workshop are still preserved.
Every two years, the Philharmonic Stradivari Soloists borrow instruments from various collectors, the majority coming from the Swiss Habisreutinger Foundation. For the musicians, this means once again getting used to the particular characteristics of the Stradivarius: according to violist Matthew Hunter, the instruments don’t like direct pressure or vertical attack. On 24 May 2015, the ensemble appears in the Chamber Music Hall with a programme that highlights the particular sound of the instruments. This programme ranges from Thomas Tallis’s Lamentations of Jeremiah from the 16th century to a divertimento by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Piotr Tchaikovsky’s Serenade in C for Strings to Richard Strauss. One particular highlight is the string sextet from Strauss’s opera Capriccio, to be performed on the Habisreutinger Foundation’s sextet of Stradivaris.