January 27, 2012

Young Montrealer loaned 300-year-old Stradivarius cello

Arthur KaptainisThe Gazette

Stéphane Tétreault, an 18-year-old student of Yuli Turovsky at the Université de Montréal, has become the hands-on custodian of a 1707 Stradivarius cello that ranks among the most valuable instruments in the world.

Reuning & Son, a Boston rare-instrument dealer, announced this week that the instrument, one of only 60 Stradivarius cellos in existence, was acquired “for an undisclosed amount via sealed-bid auction by a patroness of the arts from Montreal.”

Tétreault played last June at a Place des Arts benefit concert honouring Jacqueline Desmarais, who is well known for her support of young artists, particularly singers.

The cellist also performed in December at the Gala of the Opéra de Montréal, another organization to which Desmarais has ties.

Reuning & Son president Christopher Reuning said Tuesday that the purchase price was “a fair bit above” the minimum bid of more than $6 million U.S. Reuning calls this unspecified price “a world record by a fair margin” for a cello, a claim also endorsed by Strad Magazine.

The Stradivarius cello, named Paganini, Countess of Stainlein, also has an impressive pedigree. Its ownership has been traced to 1816 and Vincenzo Merighi, a cellist of the La Scala orchestra, who sold it to the reigning violin virtuoso of the early 19th century, Niccolò Paganini.

From the shop of the famed French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume it passed to the family of Count Louis Charles Georges Corneille de Stainlein-Saalenstein, whose widow is memorialized by its name.

In the 20th century, the instrument was used by Paul Grümmer of the Busch Quartet and Bernard Greenhouse, founding cellist of the Beaux Arts Trio, who died last May at age 95.

“I am immensely touched and humbled to have been chosen to play an instrument that was cherished for so many years by Bernard Greenhouse, who has always had my great respect and admiration,” Tétreault said.

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