On an “A-to-Z” edition of State of the Arts, Anne Akiko Meyers playing Vivaldi on Vieuxtemps’ Violin. That is, the now ex-“Vieuxtemps” Guarneri del Gesu that was crafted in 1741, the same year that Vivaldi died. It had been stored under a collector’s bed in London for fifty years, and Meyers’ 2014 CD was the first time it had ever been recorded.
Meyers was already playing a 1697 Stradivarius, but it’s very rare for such well known instruments to come on the market, and she ended up not being able to pass up the chance to play it. “These kinds of violins always go directly to a museum,” she says, “And so, hesitatingly I tried it, and completely was blown away. To smithereens. This violin belonged to Henri Vieuxtemps, in the 18-hundreds, the 19th Century violinist and composer who was the biggest violinist after Paganini. And he loved this violin so much he actually had it carried on a pillow behind his hearse on his funeral day.” The “Vieuxtemps” hadn’t been shown that kind of love by its last owner – “It was sitting under a very discriminating bed of the collector in London for the last five decades, so it really hasn’t been performed on much. And the violin just craves to be played. And it’s just such a joy to perform on it. How could something hot and cold… and the moon, the stars, and the sun all exist in one piece of wood? How is it possible?”
A promotional video for the CD that includes the Four Seasons, as well as the Concerto for Three Violins by Vivaldi – all played on the “Vieuxtemps” by Anne Akiko Meyers: