Library of Congress-Washington
In November 2006, I was lucky enough to be invited to play a concert with Aaron Shorr, and members of the wonderful Cassatt Quartet, at the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress. Playing the Schubert Fantasie on that stage, where Bartok and Szigeti recorded their historic recital, and playing Fritz Kreisler’s violin and bow, was a privilege beyond imagining.
We all seemed to hit it off, and I was invited to bring my ‘Revolutionary Violin’ project back this year, working with two Strads, and the Del Gesu, as well as the Francois Tourte which had been owned by Pierre Francois le Sales Baillot. I played a concert of Rousseau, Tartini, Locatelli, Baillot, Viotti and de Beriot. The violins definitely knew the pieces better than I did.
Opening the case containing the extraordinary ‘Betts’ Stradivari, I was momentarily stunned. I suddenly realised that I was looking at the violin that my own 1901 W E Hill and Sons was copied from. I had the hill with me, so it was a moment of great pride to present this early 20th Century homage to Stradivarius on such a stage and in such august company.