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Accompanied in her quest by legendary Sir Antonio Pappano, this documentary by Gerald Fox follows violin virtuoso Janine Jansen from Stockholm to Cremona, home of Antonio Stradivarius, and then to London, as she gets acquainted with 12 legendary Stravidarius violins in preparation for a once-in-a-lifetime concert (available to watch in full on medici.tv!). She learns each violin's history and particularities as she rehearses and gets ready to record—a nerve-wracking, intense, and hugely exciting journey. Finally, at Christmas, we follow Janine home to her chamber music festival Utrecht, where—accompanied by Pappano—she plays the pieces for a public audience.
This is the first time ever that so many of the greatest Strads have been gathered together in one place, and the camera accompanies Janine at every step. As a violinist with phenomenal bowing technique, she is uniquely qualified to bring out the character of each violin, rather than impose her character on the instruments. In a series of personal interviews, Janine and others discuss the difficulties and joys of playing these phenomenally difficult but rewarding instruments. Alongside Janine’s story, Fox's documentary traces the fascinating history of the Stradivarius as an emblem of affluence, ambition and power. These violins have essentially been witnesses to history, containing within them the rise and decline of empires, as well as the evolution of classical and western music into a major part of global culture.
This film also boasts stunning archival footage of some of the finest luminaries ever to perform on these twelve Strads: Fritz Kreisler, Marius Casadesus, Bronislaw Huberman, Efrem Zimbalist, Zino Francescatti, Nathan Milstein, Arthur Grumiaux, and Cho-Liang Lin.