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The “Red Violin” Appears in Santa Monica

At the end of the movie Red Violin, a mostly fictional account of the lost 200-plus years of Stradivari's 1720 "Red Mendelssohn" violin, a mysterious, secret bidder purchased the instrument for $1.7 million at a Sotheby's auction, leading to much speculation as to the violin's fate (that part's true). It turned out to be a gift for Elizabeth Pitcairn, whose grandfather helped purchase it for the then 16-year-old virtuoso, which sure beats pennies coming out of your ears as far as granddad gifts go. Last night, Pitcairn performed for a small private audience at the restaurant FIG, home of "bacon-wrapped bacon" and a luxury lengua torta, that is closed every Monday in the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica. Performing the very demanding, "Opus 14 for violin," a three-part concerto composed by Samuel Butler, plus an encore of the gypsy classic "Le Chale Bleu," Pitcairn demonstrated the heretofore unmatched craftsmanship of Antonio Stradivari (no one has improved on the designs of this Italian artisan), while showcasing her own extreme talent, while aided by a pianist.

The instrument's deep, warm resonance and nearly divine sustain truly became one with the player's plaintive playing, turning the instrument into an extension of her inner voice and feelings. Pitcairn herself says she has no idea where she and the violin begin and end, as the two really have become one over the years. She considers herself the protector of the instrument before the next owner comes along, a responsibility she feels honored and sometimes frightened to have, no less as she prepares to embark on a European tour and numerous customs check-points. She feels that after years of hard work mastering the instrument, she only now feels ready to really explore the capabilities of the violin and herself. The violinist has albums and will no doubt be popping up again in L.A. and across the States. If you love music that comes straight from the soul, modern or classic, do yourself a big favor and seek her live shows out.

Photo: Tatiana Arbogast

Here Pitcairn plays Ferdinand Ries' "Perpetuum Mobile."

Romanian "Hora Staccato," composed by Dinicu

Romani "Cigány tánc," traditional dance, filmed in Kiralyhaza, Hungary

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