Posted on May 21st, 2012 by

he very first ‘Cremona’ that I played was an astonishing Carlo Bergonzi a violin owned by the violinist Beatrix Marr, my great musical and artistic inspiration when I was very young. I was probably nine years old at the time. I had been expecting something special, but the ‘Yawp’ which came from the violin as a touched it with my very inexpert bow has remained with me since; I was immediately given notice, by this harsh response from an exquisite violin to my youthful fumblings, that any violin contains within it more that the techne  of its making. It is far more than an acoustic shell, or a mere provencance of owners and performers. It was somehow clear to me from that moment that for a player, every instrument carries and guards the cumulative voices of its executants and composers. This is absolutely unscientific,  for sure; but on this question this is a moment when all musicians and listeners have to decide whether of not they are willing to ‘clap their hands if they believe in fairies.’ It is after all, a short  hop from the ideas, the received fact, of the physical wear, the damage, which any artist wreaks upon their instrument, to the possibility, the alluring suspicion that we all leave more impalpable traces on, and within these living boxes, which can only be witnessed, which the instrument is set in motion, revived, in the act of playing.

Demonstrating the Carlo Bergonzi 1734 'Emiliani, Parsons' 1734. 'Bergonzi in London' 29th October 2011