“My enthusiasm flows towards the heritage of the phenomenal Cremonese violins. After displaying the wonderful golden period violin of 1718 by Antonio Stradivari ex Deszö Szigeti /ex Benno Walter (private edition by the author), it is my pleasure to present an early violin by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, the Caspar Hauser of c1724. The six solo sonatas by Eugène Ysaÿe present a wonderful platform for this powerful instrument and, especially, also for the great violinist Oleg Kaskiv, professor at the International Menuhin Music Academy. Combined with a dedicated and expert mastery of recording, this CD presents an excellent mix for any audiophile who is interested in the beauty of the great Cremonese violins.”
GIUSEPPE GUARNERI DEL GESÙ (1698–1744)
Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù was the most illustrious of the Guarneri violin-making dynasty, and the one who gave the family its reputation. He worked in Cremona, side-by-side with Antonio Stradivari. Even today, there is an air of mystery surrounding both his person and his violin-making as told in many intricate stories. His craftsmanship was both excellent and sometimes erratic, his concept very personal. The violins are considered unique, similar but different to the ones by Antonio Stradivari. Their sound is usually characterised as being deeper, stronger, and more colourful than Stradivari’s.
Michael A. Baumgartner
THE INSTRUMENT: THE CASPAR HAUSER
Recently the violin described herein, which is one of the few remaining unnamed violins by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù of Cremona, was given the enigmatic name Caspar Hauser. This choice reflects the instrument’s mysterious early life, making reference to the eponymous German youth who appeared in 1828 in Nuremberg as a poor young man who claimed to belong to a noble family and to have grown up in total isolation in a darkened cell. Recognition of an appropriate link with the instrument came about through a conversation between the luthier, expert Michael Baumgartner, and the new owner, a private violin player. In addition, the name also reflects the owner’s own grandfather who carried the same name.
Very little is known about the history of this extraordinary violin from del Gesù’s early work. It has been kept in a private collection in Germany for more than eighty years and was only rarely used. In 2002, Charles Beare acquired a share in the violin and restored it to the highest standard. The violin exhibits a typical ‘del Gesù’ waist characteristic of the period – pronounced and small. The f-holes resemble the shapes of Stradivari but are executed more roughly; the scroll is large and boldly cut. The varnish is stunning; brilliantly glowing and of a light orange-brown colour on a lighter ground. The sound delivers both colour and power, as can be appreciated in the present recording. This is a hallmark of Giuseppe del Gesù’s instruments.
VIOLINIST OLEG KASKIV
Oleg Kaskiv was born in 1978 into a family of musicians in the small Ukrainian village of Kremenetz.
He started playing the violin at the age of seven under the guidance of his violinist parents and later entered the M. Lysenko National Academy of Music in Lviv.
In 1996, he won a scholarship to study in Switzerland at the famous International Menuhin Music Academy (IMMA), founded by Lord Yehudi Menuhin in 1977. At the Academy, Oleg’s great mentor was Professor Alberto Lysy (educated directly by Lord Yehudi Menuhin and his only student), who passed on the great romantic violin playing to him.
Today, Oleg Kaskiv is a soloist and lead violin professor at the IMMA. He has also taught at the Conservatoire de Genève since 2007.
As a soloist, Oleg Kaskiv performs regularly with great success in his native country with the National Symphony of Ukraine, Odessa Philharmonic and Lviv Philharmonic Symphony Orchestras as well as worldwide with the Camerata Lysy, Camerata de Lausanne, Symphonisches Orchester Zürich, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden.
He is a laureate of many prestigious violin competitions: Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition (Belgium), International Oistrakh Competition (Ukraine), International Kotorovych Violin Competition (Ukraine), International Spohr Competition (Germany), Montreal International Musical Competition (Canada), Premio Lipizer (Italy), International Niredgazi Violin Competition (Japan), International Dvarionas Competition (Lithuania) and International Molinari Competition (Switzerland).