The standard protocol is for the soloist to switch instruments with the concertmaster and carry on playing the concerto on a borrowed violin until the original has been restrung, retuned and restored.
Not so in Philadelphia, where Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider declined the concertmaster’s violin in the middle of the Elgar concerto and decided to halt proceedings until his own instrument was restrung – by associate principal second violinist Paul Roby – and ready to continue.
In the hiatus, soloist and conductor chatted amiably with musicians and audience. Szeps-Znaider picked up playing where he left off and everyone went home happy.
Szeps-Znaider told Peter Dobrin next day that, with ten minutes to go of the Elgar concerto, adjusting to a different instrument would have been disruptive both to him and to the audience.
There was another reason.
The violin he plays is a 1741 Guarnerius. It used to be owned by Fritz Kreisler. It’s the one on which Kreisler gave the world premiere of the Elgar concerto in November 1910. No other violin would do.