The Czech government has called back all instruments loaned out by the National Museum in Prague for fear they might be seized when played abroad.
Two members of the Talich Quartet (below) have been ordered to return a Stradivarius violin and Grancino cello. Leo Cepicky of the Wihan Quartet has handed back his Amati, reports Strad magazine.
The panic measure follows the Austrian government’s seizure of to Czech-owned paintings from Vienna’s Belvedere Gallery as security against a $500 million Czech government debt to a blood plasma company.
It’s a bizarre situation. If a government defaults on a debt, its credit ought to be worthless. But this debt is still being contested through the courts. Until the matter is settled, two fine quartets will be hampered by playing on less than top instruments.