Tuesday at 8:00 PM
Chicago’s mainstay for chamber music, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, often reaches beyond its ranks to keep a broad base of repertoire. This time they invited the Borromeo String Quartet to come to Chicago, which leads us to the subject of rare violins.
Finding a home for a prized violin is about as easy as deciding who should raise your kid. There are so many things to consider: safety, quality of care, compatibility.
…the violin and Mr. Kitchen really like each other
The first violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet, Nicholas Kitchen, lucked into a dream-come-true when his teacher’s widow, Mrs. Szymon Goldberg, decided Nick should receive her Guarneri del Gesu—the instrument that had belonged to her late husband.
There are many considerations: there was a simpatico between Mr. Goldberg and young Nick Kitchen; Mr. Kitchen had gone on to a very distinguished career as a chamber musician and soloist. Beyond that the violin and Mr. Kitchen really like each other. That’s right. Putting together violins, bows and players is as complex as relationships between humans. Mr. Kitchen swears that violin will not tolerate an off day. It challenges him to work harder and be better, before it will open up and sing; and then it really sings.
There is a third party to this violin story; Mrs. Goldberg saw beyond one man’s lifetime, arranging for the Library of Congress to assume ownership of the fiddle. The fiddle has a sibling, a sister violin belonging to Fritz Kreisler, which also resides at the Library of Congress.
How can two violins be sisters?
The two violins by del Gesu were cut from the same piece of wood. The backs of the instruments show matching wood grains, which the violin maker from Cremona sliced and opened like a book at the seam.
The partnership between the Library of Congress and Mr. Kitchen has been joyful. See the videos (below) of Mr. Kitchen playing both del Gesus side-by-side.
Hear Nick Kitchen on WFMT Tuesday at 8:00 PM. He played two french works on the CCM First Monday Concert at the Chicago Cultural Center. The free concert was recorded by WFMT and airs on Tuesday.