We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Royal Academy of Music of London for loaning us their viola for the performance of Mendelssohn Octet.
Of the ten complete Stradivari violas known still to exist two were made in 1696, the other being the inlaid contralto viola of the Spanish Quintet. The 'Archinto' differs from the 1690 contralto in ways which are immediately apparent, perhaps the most noticeable being the varnish, now of a red-orange tint. The corners here appear longer, but the sides are much lower, giving a shallow appearance to the viola when seen from the side. One would imagine that the tone might be restricted by this unusual lowness, which was the opinion of Count Cozio di Salabue when he came across the instrument. However its tone in the Lindsay Quartet, where it was recently used, was warm, sonorous and penetrating.
The viola was sold about 1800 by Conte Carlo Gambara of Brescia to Conte Archinto of Milan, who in addition owned a Stradivari cello of 1689 and two violins, one of them dated 1721. The instruments were all purchased by J. B. Vuillaume about 1860, the viola subsequently going to England to an amateur by the name of Rutson, who in 1890 bequeathed it and two Stradivari violins to the present owners, the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Taken from "Antonio Stradivari : The Cremona Exhibition of 1987" by Charles Beare (pg・114+)
Salzburg Easter Festival
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