The ‘Stern, ex-Panette’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ of 1737

Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ was almost half a century younger than Antonio Stradivari, and far less prolific. His instruments are more variable and unique, deviating greatly from the standards the Amatis set in Cremona in the 16th and 17th centuries. The ‘Stern, ex-Panette’ was made in the year that Stradivari died, and we can only imagine what ambitions Guarneri had in mind. Sadly he only lived another seven years, until 1744, when his death marked the end of the classical era of Cremonese violin making.

His instruments are more variable and unique, deviating greatly from the standards the Amatis set in Cremona in the 16th and 17th centuries

 

This Guarneri first appeared in historical records when it was sold by the Parisian dealer Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in 1847. It remained in Paris until the 1920s when it went to America, as did so many great instruments during this time. In 1944 it was famously purchased by Isaac Stern, who played it as his main concert instrument for nearly 50 years, before selling it to the noted collector David Fulton.

For the past decade the violin has been played by Renaud Capuçon. Thanks to Stern’s extensive discography, it is possible to compare the recordings of these two great musicians and discover how one instrument can sound the same and yet so different.

Commentary by Jason Price

Renaud Capuçon, Wigmore Hall, Friday 22 December 2017

  • ‘Stern, ex-Panette’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ of 1737, Renaud Capuçon
  • ‘Stern, ex-Panette’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ of 1737, Renaud Capuçon
  • ‘Stern, ex-Panette’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ of 1737, Renaud Capuçon
  • ‘Stern, ex-Panette’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ of 1737, Renaud Capuçon
  • ‘Stern, ex-Panette’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ of 1737, Renaud Capuçon

An interview with Renaud Capuçon

“Of course, when I began to play the ‘Panette’, I knew it had previously been owned and played by Isaac Stern, and people weren’t shy of pointing that out! So at the beginning it was intimidating. In some ways you never forget the heritage beneath your chin: not just Stern but Panette himself, and before him Vuillaume. I have all the recordings, all the pictures; there is one with Pablo Casals smoking his cigar with this violin by his side. When I listen to Stern’s recordings, it instantly sounds like the ‘Panette’, even though our playing styles are completely different. What I recognize is the depth of the sound. The G string has an unusually human voice; the E string has an extraordinary purity. The tonal profile is so rounded and homogeneous: there are no sharp corners.”

Read a Carteggio interview with Renaud Capuçon ->