May 3, 2004
IN classical music, the journeys of musical instruments can sometimes be as remarkable as the artists that play them.
When Kyril Zlotnikov plays his cello during this tour of Australia by the Jerusalem Quartet, he uses a cello that started life with Jacqueline du Pre.
The cello came into existence after violin maker Sergio Peresson heard du Pre playing with her husband, Daniel Baremboim, at a concert in Philadelphia in 1970.
"After she tried it, she put away her other instruments, which included a Strad, and she played only on that instrument," says Zlotnikov.
It is the instrument that is heard in Jacqueline du Pre's last recordings and she used it until she gave up playing, having been afflicted by multiple sclerosis. She died in 1987.
After her death, the cello was held in Paris. "It stayed with maestro (Daniel) Baremboim and I know a few people tried to play on that instrument, but for some reason they didn't like it," says Zlotnikov.
The young cellist, born in Minsk, Belorus, studied cello at the Jerusalem Conservatory of Music and it was there in 1993 that the Jerusalem Quartet was formed.
The quartet practised for two years before its debut in 1995. It won the two competitions it entered; one in Jerusalem and the other an international string quartet competition in Graz, Austria.
He first met Baremboim when he joined the quartet to present the Dvorak Piano Quintet in Jerusalem two years ago.
The following August, Baremboim invited him at short notice to join his West-Eastern-Divan Orchestra in Seville, Spain, where Baremboim directs a combined orchestra of Jews and Arabs.
"After I agreed to join the orchestra, he asked me what kind of instrument I had and I said that I didn't have one and the one I played was not too good," he says.
"He said dump your instrument and I have something for you, but you will have to go through Paris to pick it up. In Paris, they said it was Jacqueline du Pre's cello, and I said 'Whoa, it's not a Strad, is it?'"
"But this instrument, it was the perfect size for me. When I took it
first, it didn't sound like it does now, because no one had played it for
years, but now I find I really like the feeling and size and the character
of the instrument."
Copyright © 2004, Advertiser Newspapers Pty Limited