J & A Beare reveals the behind-the-scenes story of the 12 Stradivari recording in a new documentary, Falling for Stradivari directed by BAFTA winning director, Gerald Fox. The film follows Janine Jansen, accompanied on the piano by Sir Antonio Pappano, as she faces the challenge of recording, in a very short time, 12 Stradivari violins for one single album.
The idea behind this recording is the brainchild of Steven Smith, Managing Director of Beare’s. Fifteen years in the making, it required an extensive amount of planning, patience, and perseverance.
“To obtain the consent from all the owners in the first place took several months of discussions and negotiations. Stradivari instruments of the calibre needed for this recording are owned by players, foundations, trusts and collectors spread across the globe. So many of these violins are in the hands of busy concert artists whose schedules stretch years into the future. Creating a two-week window when all the instruments and players would be available at the same time and in the same location, felt nearly impossible. It is no surprise that it was never attempted before. But after months of planning, we managed to gather all the violins, Janine, Antonio and all the people needed for the recording in September 2020.” – Steven Smith
Each of the twelve Stradivari violins had been carefully selected for their outstanding tonal qualities, state of preservation, and fascinating history. Seven of the twelve violins are from the so-called “Golden Period”. Presenting instruments of different periods was important in order to highlight Stradivari’s lifelong search for the perfect sound.
The sound differences between each instrument, although subtle, are clearly perceptible. To bring them forth required playing and recording them as much as possible in one continuous flow. Some musicians in the past have compared playing a Stradivari to taming a wild animal. The challenge presented to Janine was Herculean in its magnitude as she had to contend with twelve of them in such a short time. The documentary includes interviews with Janine and Pappano as well as leading luthiers, experts, and owners and perfectly captures the difficulties and joys of these wonderful instruments. Watch the trailer below.