Florian Leonhard helps Leonidas Kavakos secure the 1734 ‘Willemotte’ Stradivarius

We are delighted to have helped secure the 1734 ‘Willemotte’ Antonio Stradivari violin for our friend and world-renowned soloist Leonidas Kavakos.

Leonidas, who is one of the World’s most respected violinists having won numerous prizes including the prestigious Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2017, fell in love with it 23 years ago.

The violin is named after 19th century collector Charles Willemotte of Antwerp, who owned 20 instruments made by Stradivari during his lifetime.

Below are statements from Florian Leonhard and Leonidas Kavakos.

Florian Leonhard said:

“I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Leonidas for over a decade.

“During all these years, the thing that’s made the greatest impression on me was the way in which he endlessly searches for not only the obvious qualities of a violin, such as power and brilliance, but also for the instrument to allow him to dramatically express his interpretations of the violin repertoire.

“I’ve heard Leonidas play many incredible fine instruments in concert halls all around the world, and his musicianship is increasingly inventive and moving. With each change of instruments, he is able to find new and exciting ways of expressing himself.

“The Willemotte is a late work of Antonio Stradivari. It shows the confidence of a craftsman who has perfected his design and is completely sure in his methods and execution. Leonidas’ inventive and creative spirit is perfectly matched in this choice of violin.”

Leonidas Kavakos said:

“I want to express my gratitude to Florian and everyone who has contributed to this dream come true story.

“My very first acquaintance with the Willemotte,” said Kavakos, “took place back in 1994 in NYC, during the wonderful exhibit of Guarneri del Gesù violins at the Metropolitan museum… I held it in awe.

“I asked whether I could play a few notes on it. That was it! I will never forget that impression I had. “All the sweetness of Stradivari sound was there of course, but what amazed me was the combination of that with an impressive volume and even more, the colour of depth and darkness, which one doesn’t always associate with Stradivari sound.

‘I really hope I can have a violin like this one day,’ I thought, and gave it back to the owner.”

“When I am in London, I always pay a visit to Florian Leonhard, with whom I have developed a wonderful friendship over quite a few years.

“Florian is one of the most impressive ateliers in the world. There is always an amazing quantity and quality of instruments available there and therefore, talking about violins and their great mystery, is combined with the physical presence of instruments of almost any maker one might think of. What more can someone who loves violins wish for?

“Hours go by and they feel like seconds! In one of these visits, Florian brought the Willemotte and asked me whether I knew it! I told him the story of course, and immediately started playing on it. This time, coming from the “Abergavenny” Stradivari of 1724, which, by the way, I also got from Florian and have played on for the last 8 years, my impression was similar to the one 23 years ago. But due to the difference of sound colour and production, I needed time to adjust.

“While the “Abergavenny” has a very smooth big round tone, I was struck by the Willemotte’s electricity and intensity that crowns the underlying darkness. It is so fast and responsive, one almost has to hold back! And yet, all the colours and elegance are there, waiting to be explored!

“This is a sound that combines the best of Stradivari and Guarneri and I feel privileged to be able to make music and discover new paths of sound with this great instrument.”

Read more about the deal in The Strad: http://www.thestrad.com/leonidas-kavakos-acquires-1734-willemotte-stradivarius-violin/