New Strads for Old

New Strads for Old


norman lebrecht

September 25, 2009

Who says Cremona always sounds best? A blind testing by Matthew Trusler, the Paris-based British violinist who once went searching with me on a BBC quest for the ideal fiddle, yielded some remarkable results.

Playing behind a curtain for a jury of musicians and 180 members of a forestry conference, Matt did his riffs on a 1711 Stradivarius and on four new instruments by the Swiss maker, Michael Rhonheimer, two of them treated with an organic fungus and two au naturel.

In all tests and different repertoire, a nine-month old fungal fiddle came out tops for warmth and clarity. The Strad came second.

A forest-steeped Rhonheimer costs $25,000. A Strad can expect to fetch 1,000 times as much. Go figure. The story’s here.

And check out Matt’s new recording of the Korngold concerto.


  • M. Villeger says:

    There is not such a thing as “a strad” but many strads with various qualities just as wine vintages. Moreover, the sustainbility of that quality might be another factor to consider. So, in my opinion, this story is slightly misleading. Yet that observation doesn’t detract from appreciating the quality of the modern instruments produced by this violin maker.