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A Stradivarius for the People

Matteo Fedeli

Camerata di Sant’Antonio celebrates a decade of music making with a special guest

The 10th anniversary concert of the Camerata di Sant’Antonio takes place tonight, Thursday June 13 at 7pm at the group’s home, St. Anthony of Padua’s R.C. Church behind Buffalo City Hall.

For this evening’s celebratory concert, maestro Christopher Weber has been able to pull off a special coup by bringing the Italian violin virtuoso Matteo Fedeli to his series. Fedeli will be performing on a very special violin, the 1726 “Grand” Stradivarius, previously owned by the legendary Austrian violinist Fritz Kreisler and now in the collection of the violin museum in Cremona, Italy, the city in which Antonio Stradivari lived and worked. Fedeli is touring the country as part of the Year of Italian Culture in the USA program, sponsored by the Italian government and including stops in such major metropolitan areas as Chicago and New York City. His Buffalo appearance is one of only eight stops on his US tour, and it is sponsored by Lucia Caracci Ederer, Italian Vice Consul of Western New York.

Fedeli is both an associate founder and, since 1995, the principal violin of the Academy Concert String Orchestra of Milan. He has appeared as a violin soloist at such prestigious venues as La Scala in Milan, La Fenice in Venice and at the Musikverein in Vienna. In recent years Fedeli has concentrated on his project, “A Stradivarius for the People,” supported by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and by the Region of Lombardy. Its aim is to allow people throughout Italy to be able to experience for free the opportunity of hearing him perform masterpieces of music on some of the very finest violins in existence. (Are you listening, Washington and Albany?) The wonderful examples of Stradivari’s craftsmanship that Fedeli has performed on include: “Il Cremonese” 1715, “Vesuvius” 1727, “King of Prussia” 1703, “Sandars” 1695, “Maurin Rubinoff” 1731, “DaVinci” 1725, “Duke of Alba” 1719, and “Reynier” 1681, formerly owned by Napoleon III, with which, invited by the Holy See, he recently performed a concert in Pavia in honor of Pope Benedict XVI.

The violin that Fedeli will perform on tonight was crafted a year after the famous “Da Vinci” Strad, and is made of the same beautiful maple, with a golden vein that gives shine and depth to the marbling. The features of the violin are so remarkable that the instrument is often included among the five or six violins worthy of the name “Grand Stradivarius.” Stradivari crafted the violin, perhaps as a commission, for a violinist seeking an even deeper, sweeter, and powerful sound than any traditional instrument could produce.

Fedeli will be joined by his touring partner, the Milanese pianist Andrea Carcano, in a rare performance of the Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings, written at the age of 13 in 1822 by the very precocious Felix Mendelssohn. Long forgotten, the manuscript of the work was unearthed and prepared for publication in the early 1950s by Yehudi Menuhin, who had also himself been a childhood prodigy. The Mendelssohn family had presented the manuscript of this early work as a gift to the eminent violinist Ferdinand David, who in 1844 played the premiere of the famed Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64. The manuscript of the juvenile work somehow found its way back to members of the Mendelssohn family, who a century later presented it to Menuhin, who gave the work its 20th century premiere in Carnegie Hall in 1952.

This early concerto has long been overshadowed by the great Violin Concerto in E minor, a war horse of the repertory. Menuhin championed the re-discovered work, playing it often in his recitals, and editing the first performance edition. While he subsequently made three different recordings of the piece, it’s immediately charming, but simple nature, has prevented it from ever challenging the overwhelming popularity of the composer’s Concerto in E minor.

Weber, founder and music director of the Camerata, has consistently managed to program rare, underperformed works from the vast classical musical repertoire, alongside of exciting, newly composed works, such as the innovative Dialogue for Cello and Strings, by the critically acclaimed young American composer Caroline Mallonée, that was given its exciting world premiere by cellist Feng Hew at a series concert this past April. The other two works on tonight’s program exemplify Weber’s continuing tradition of seeking out neglected masterpieces. Both British composer Peter Warlock’s Serenade for the Birthday of Frederick Delius, and Italian composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s Serenade for Strings in E flat, will be making their long delayed Buffalo area premieres.

Tickets are $20. For more information, call 854-2563 or visit

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