On Sunday March 30th and Monday 31st the latest incarnation of the Amati stringed instrument exhibition was held at the Langham Hotel, Upper Regent Street, central London.
21 exhibitors took part including stands from dealers as far away as Japan and the USA. The larger space of the Ball Room at the Langham allowed for a more relaxed atmosphere and also made it possible to expand the Withers Exhibition stand to twice the size on this occasion – which was exciting if a little harder work. It’s one of my passions to keep the flame burning for British makers and in particular the Withers history, being as it was before it closed in the west end, the longest standing violin shop in the country.
Instruments on display ranged from simpler student items on some stands right through to the greatest historical makers, the cream on the cake this time probably being the Ex-Barjansky Stradivari cello of Julian Lloyd Webber which was finely exhibited in a glass case near the entrance to the show. As usual there was also a selection of really excellent new instruments to see and try – after all, these are the future.
Instruments offered for sale on my own stand included an exceptional cello by G.B. Rugeri of Cremona, a stunning and rare early violin by J.B. Vuillaume from 1823, a fine violin of Barak Norman (almost a Daniel Parker), and a great viola by Gasparo Piattellini of Florence – along with a wide range of fine bows.
Other fine instruments offered for sale on other stands included a superb cello by J.B.Vuillaume, a long pattern Strad, a fine Camillus Camilli, a decent Nicolo Gagliano and a clutch of attractive Ansaldo Poggis amongst many others.
On the Sunday evening we were treated to a magnificent performance by Roby Lakatos and his ensemble – a true Gypsy group who occasionally spilled out into straight Jazz styles. The virtuosity of Roby Lakatos was breathtaking (as were the other musicians) and made the (very) packed Ball Room more than a little happy!
Altogether an exciting and enjoyable two days of violin heaven. My only wish perhaps, was that more stringed musicians had been aware of it or able to come along. Good students on the hunt for a first fine instrument or established professionals seeking an up-grade would so much benefit from an exhibition like this. Where else an you meet so many established dealers from around the world and see such a rich array of lovely instruments in one place? Although there were busy times, this was partly due to the auctions running concurrently and the excess of dealers from around the world being present. I encourage everyone to swing by at a future event if you can and see for yourself…