Madrid, Mar 19 (EFE).- A rare set of Antonio Stradivari instruments, that were designed to be played together, have been removed from their display cases to launch Spain’s National Heritage concert season.
Earlier this week, the two violins, a viola and a cello, which arrived at the Spanish court 250 years ago, inaugurated the 2022 National Heritage musical season in a concert by the Mandelring Quartet.
“Playing these instruments is an incredible moment,” Bernhard Schmidt, cellist of the experienced German ensemble, tells Efe before the show. “Their voice is unique.”
Experts have debated whether the Renaissance instruments should be safeguarded as museum pieces or played.
The head of Spain’s National Heritage artwork transfer opines that “as they are musical instruments, they have to be played because if not, they die”.
“They come to life when the great musicians who come here play them”, she continues.
There is, however, a “strict protocol” that requires her presence, a Heritage curator and two security guards during rehearsals.
Castillo guards the instruments at all times and oversees their transfer to and from rehearsals, concerts and service checks, which take place up to six times a year.
“My team and I follow a very strict protocol so that two centuries later these works of art remain in the same excellent state of conservation,” she adds.
There are some 600 instruments left in the world by Italian Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) and his family, but only these four were created as a unit.
Initially, there were five of them, but the two violas in the group were looted during the Peninsula War.
One of them, the contralto, was recovered and bought by the Spanish State in 1951 from the British violin company Hill & Sons, but the other viola is lost.
Antonio Stradivari had offered them to Felipe V, who was visiting Cremona (Italy) in 1702, but the hasty return of the first Bourbon when the Peninsular War broke out frustrated the transfer of the instruments to Spain.
His son Carlos III acquired the precious instruments 70 years later for his successor, Carlos IV. EFE