Our May 2024 cover star discusses the tools of her trade with Tom Stewart


Violinist Maria Dueñas, pictured with the Gagliano violin

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This is an excerpt from The Strad May 2024 feature on violinist Maria Dueñas: Making her mark. Read the full article here

Not long after she arrived in Germany, Maria Dueñas was loaned a Nicolò Gagliano by the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben. The instrument on which she developed her sound and style, it has a brightness and brilliance she says is perfect for the Ortiz Concerto. ‘Its tone has a special shine that matches the playful character of the music.’ Nearly a decade on, she feels at home on the Gagliano but, as she explains, that was not always the case. ‘Getting used to a new instrument can be very hard at the beginning. When I started on the Gagliano I just didn’t know what to do with it, how to make the tone and colours I was imagining in my head. It took some time but I found a way of playing that worked and now I’m incredibly happy with how it sounds.’

Maria boxout on violins

Left: violin by Nicolò Gagliano, photo courtesy Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben

Right: 1710 ‘Camposelice’ Stradivari violin, photo courtesy Nippon Music Foundation

Dueñas’s other instrument, since 2022, is the 1710 ‘Camposelice’ Stradivari, on generous loan from the Nippon Music Foundation. Moving to the Gagliano as an eleven-year-old was actually easier than adapting to the Stradivari, she says, because back then the Gagliano was the only instrument she had access to. By the time the Stradivari came along, Dueñas had spent almost eight years with the Gagliano and had both violins at her disposal. ‘They’re both amazing instruments but they’re so different from each other,’ she says. ‘The Strad is so dark, and I’m still in the process of seeing what I can do with it.’ She tells me that each responds very differently to the pressure of the bow. ‘I can really give it my all on the Gagliano and it will be fine. The Strad has more volume, but if I press too much it almost has the opposite effect; it sounds much smaller. I have to try harder to achieve lighter, brighter colours.’

‘I can really give it my all on the Gagliano and it will be fine. The Strad has more volume but I have to try harder to achieve lighter, brighter colours’

This is an excerpt from The Strad May 2024 feature on violinist Maria Dueñas: Making her mark. Read the full article here

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