Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers offered rare, high-caliber violin

Thursday, October 16, 2014

About 18 months ago someone made famed violinist Anne Akiko Meyers an offer she couldn’t refuse.

The offer was this: Would you like to have exclusive use of the “ex-Vieuxtemps” Guarneri del Gesu violin for the rest of your life?

Eventually, Meyers accepted the offer, however she had paused before saying yes.

“I was performing on two different Strads and I was not in the market to try another instrument,” she said in a phone interview.

“Strad” is short for Stradivarius, prestigious stringed instruments made by the Stradivari family.

“But a violin of this caliber, for it to become available, is extremely rare,” Meyers added.

She decided to try out the 1741 del Gesu, which is considered by many the finest sounding violin in existence.

“From the first note, it was really unlike any other violin I had played. The G string is so incredibly rich and large and so deep-sounding. The E string is like a cathedral. It has such beautiful overtones. Those two extremes on one instrument … It was a dream,” Meyers said.

And the violin is in mint condition. No scratches, no cracks...and valued at 16 Million dollars.

Usually a violin of this quality, she said, is “sent to a museum and trapped in a museum cage. … The sponsor decided to purchase it and really wanted the violin to be heard around the world and chose me (to play it).”

“It’s music that takes my breath away. It zooms into my soul,” Meyers said. “I think the best music is that way.”

Meyers said she premiered the Bates at the Aspen Music Festival this summer. “It’s very accessible, very rhythmically propulsive and very challenging for me and the pianist,” she said.

She played the del Gesu in the instrument’s recording debut. The CD is “The Four Seasons: The Vivaldi Album.”

She found it a coincidence to discover that 1741 – the year the violin was crafted – was the same year of Vivaldi’s death.

Her newest album, “The American Masters,” is being released Sept. 30. It features “Lullaby for Natalie,” Bates’ Violin Concerto, which Meyers co-commissioned, and Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto. The recording is with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Meyers has also collaborated with artists as diverse as jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, electronic music pioneer Isao Tomita and the pop-to-classical vocal quartet Il Divo.

Don't miss Anne Akiko Meyers playing the “ex-Vieuxtemps” Guarneri del Gesu violin at The Lyric, January 29th.