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Strad Fest L.A., Presented by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Features Eight Rare Stradivarius Violins Played by Virtuosos

By Louise Burton l.burton@classicalite.com on Mar 07, 2014 05:32 AM EST

Strad Fest L.A. is a fiddler's dream: It will bring together eight rare Stradivarius violins in three musical programs presented by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on March 27-29. The festival celebrates the art of violin maker Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) and the exquisite music that has been played on his violins for the past 300 years.

"Baroque Conversations" on March 27 will showcase four of the rare instruments in Telemann's Concerto for Four Violins in D Major. The festival continues with "Stradivarius FiddleFest" on March 28, a fiddle "face-off" starring five of the Strads played by world-class virtuosos, each attempting to outplay the other in a program of favorite violin showpieces.

The festival will conclude with a black-tie gala, "Stradosphere: A Strad-Studded Gala Evening" on March 29, featuring all eight Stradivarius violins in a program of Bach, Vivaldi, Maurer and Piazzolla. Ticket prices for this gala benefit are also stratospheric, but arguably worth it to witness such a remarkable convergence of rare instruments.

"We may never see a gathering of Stradivarius violins like this again in our lifetime," says LACO executive director Rachel Fine. "With eight of the finest Strads in the world on display and being played in such an eclectic range of events, it is truly an extraordinary celebration."

The "Baroque Conversations" program on March 27 will feature the 1708 "Ruby" Stradivarius, named for its extremely well-preserved ruby-tinted varnish; the 1716 "Milstein," played for nearly 40 years by virtuoso Nathan Milstein; the 1715 "Titian," considered among the finest violins of the maker's golden period and revered for its unusual power, scope and focus; and the ca. 1720 "Beechback," whose simple understated dark exterior belies its rich tone and full sound.

These rare instruments will be played by violinists Philippe Quint, Chee-Yun, Cho-Liang Lin and Margaret Batjer, LACO's concertmaster. This program at Zipper Concert Hall in downtown L.A. also features members of the LACO in selections from three Bach cantatas.

"FiddleFest" on March 28 presents five violin virtuosos in an acrobatic program of solos, duos, trios and quartets. Trading the exquisite Stradivarius instruments throughout this good-natured display of musical one-upmanship are Batjer, Yun, Lin, Quint and Xiang Yu, joined by LACO music director Jeffrey Kahane on piano and LACO bassist Nico Abondolo. "FiddleFest" will take place at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

FiddleFest repertoire includes such showpieces as Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso; Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances; Moszkowski's Suite in G minor, Op. 71; Kreisler's Mélodie (from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice) and Tambourin Chinois; Brahms's Scherzo in C minor, "Sonatensatz;" John Corigliano's The Red Violin Caprices; and Franck's Sonata in A major.

More information about the music, performers and instruments to be showcased is available at laco.org/stradfestLA.

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TagsStrad Fest LA, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Stradivarius violin, Stradivarius, Baroque Conversations, Rachel Fine, Philippe Quint, Chee-Yun, Cho-Liang Lin, Margaret Batjer, FiddleFest, Xiang Yu, Jeffrey Kahane, Antonio Stradivari