On October 14, 2010, a violin sold for $3,400,000 - the highest on record for any instrument sold at auction. On January 11, 2011, Anne Akiko Meyers, the buyer of that instrument, filled it with the sound of Piazzolla's Milonga del angel in a concert at the Ruben Museum of Art in New York City. Today, you can see and hear the result in the featured video below.
The violin was constructed by Antonio Stradivari in 1697. The first owner is believed to have been Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1804, the violin came into the possession of Count Gabriel-Jean-Joseph Molitor and remained in that family until 1917. Hence the violin is known as the Napoleon/Molitor violin. For the next nearly 100 years, the violin changed hands several times and although it was heard in public, it has never been heard regularly in the hands of virtuoso performer. That is about to change.
Ms. Meyers is indeed a virtuoso performer whose talents were recognized by the age of seven and by eighteen, she was an international star. Among her many recordings you will find performances of Piazzolla's Introduccion et Angel and Milonga en re on her 2009 CD, Smile. There is also a YouTube video of her performing Ave Maria but today's video is, I believe, the first time she has applied her talents to Milonga del angel. In all four of these, Ms. Meyers has chosen pieces with flowing, sustained lines which best show her gorgeous tone and finger-tip mastery. It is impossible to judge the quality of sound from her new Stradivarius with the compressed sound available on YouTube but the performance is superb and deserves one of the best instruments in the world. Milonga del angel has never sounded better. While it is difficult to pull your ear away from the sound of the violin, one should also note the excellent job being done by her accompanist, Reiko Uchida.
It is an honor to the music of Piazzolla to be chosen to share the stage with this star violin and star violinist, but it is an honor well deserved.
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