The Australian Chamber Orchestra has added another rare instrument to its collection – a violin made by Joseph Guarneri ‘filius Andreae’ in 1714, and purchased for US$1.35m. Certain features of the instrument, particularly the head, indicate that Joseph’s son, ‘del Gesù’, had a hand in its construction, according to London-based specialists W.E. Hill and Sons.
This violin was previously owned by English violinist and teacher Isolde Menges in the early 20th century and is one of only around 250 violins by ‘filius Andreae’ in existence. It will be played by ACO member Rebecca Chan and will have its public debut during the ACO’s Mahler and Sibelius concerts across Australia from 16 to 29 June.
‘This 1714 Guarneri violin has many of the typical characteristics which we have come to expect from this legendary luthier,’ said Chan. ‘It has a dark, rich tone, like an alto voice, yet it is capable of great sweetness. Although it’s a very powerful violin, it can also spin the most delicate and intimate pianissimos.’
The violin has been bought through the ACO Instrument Fund, which purchased the orchestra’s first Stradivarius, a 1728 violin, in 2011. ACO artistic director Richard Tognetti currently plays a Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ worth US$15m on loan from a private benefactor.
Photo: Jack Saltmiras