Russia-born cellist Pavel Gomziakov this month releases the first professional recording of a 1725 Stradivarius cello so rare and valuable that it received a full police escort to recording sessions. The release, which features works by Haydn including his Cello Concertos in C and D major, comes out on Onyx Classics on 20 May.
Nicknamed the ‘Chevillard King of Portugal’ after its two famous owners, Belgian cellist Pierre Chevillard (1811-1877) and King Dom Luís I of Portugal (1838-1889), the cello was made by legendary luthier Antonio Stradivari when he was 81 years old, and is one of only 25 of its kind in the world. Since 1937 it has been the crowning jewel of Lisbon’s Museu Nacional da Música, where it is played only once a year for a strictly limited audience at the museum.
Gomziakov, who lives in Lisbon, first encountered the cello in 2014. Inspired by the unique timbre of the instrument, he arranged for its restoration and persuaded the museum to allow a series of recording sessions in the Gulbenkian Foundation Auditorium, with the Orquestra Gulbenkian. The sessions took place between August and September 2015, necessitating the multi-million euro cello’s heavily guarded first journey outside the confines of the museum since its arrival there nearly 80 years before.
A month later, Gomziakov played the cello in concert for the first time, for a sold-out charity event at the Gulbenkian Foundation – marking the instrument’s first public performance for decades.
Pavel Gomziakov says:
‘My first meeting with the cello was in the museum (I was invited to play a concert on it in October 2014 for the International day of Music) and I must say that I was completely astonished by this instrument. I started to practise on it, and before I knew it six hours had passed!
This cello has everything, from a rich, deep, almost double bass-like C string to a clear, violin-like A string at the top. It is difficult to explain in words, but there is a uniquely human sound to the instrument, almost like the voice of legendary soprano Maria Callas; it can sing and speak at the same time.
The sound is even more impressive considering how many decades the cello has spent trapped in its case at the museum – it seemed to wake up so easily, despite seldom having been played since the death of King Don Luís! There are still a few good Strad cellos in the world, but I have never heard one with the same voice as the ‘Chevillard King of Portugal’.’
For further information and press copies of the album, please contact Eva Mason at Albion Media
For more details of upcoming Onyx Classics releases visit www.onyxclassics.com