The cello that I started building way back in 2007 is finally completed and was sold. I used the opportunity to update the pictures of the building process in the 'workbench' section of the website. Here is a link to the pictures:
I also did some research on the 'Davidov' Stradivari cello that I used as inspiration for the cello and here is what I found:
It was constructed on Stradivari’s so-called B mould and is very similar in construction and form to the equally famous ‘Duport’ Strad built a year earlier and played by Mstislav Rostopovich until his death. The owners/players of the Davidov included Jacqueline du Pré and Yo-Yo Ma. Strad’s previous cellos were much larger and most have since been reduced. About 20 were made on the more manageable B pattern.
The Davidov was supposedly built for the Duke of Tuscany, and in 1870 it was given by patron Count Wielhorsky at the court of Tsar Alexander II to Karl Davydov, a Russian cellist of great reknown – described as the ‘czar of cellists’ by Tchaikovsky. The following paragraph appeared in ‘The Strad’ magazine in 1892:
"The way in which Davidoff became possessed of his wonderful Stradivarius violoncello was a very strange one. The late Czar, Alexander II., used to give musical entertainments at his palace. On one occasion Rubinstein, Wieniawsky. and Davidoff were present. A certain Count Wielhorsky (noted for his love of art and his absentmindedness), received the artistes, when Davidoff at once noticed that the Count was very nervous and excited. Asking what the matter was, Davidoff received the following answer: 'To day I celebrate my seventieth birthday, and in a way of my own; I present you with my Stradivarius violoncello.' Davidoff took this for a joke, but he very soon found out that the Count was quite in earnest. The music began, and after the first trio the emperor spoke to Wieniawsky, remarking upon the lovely tone, of his violin, and asking him what make it was. A Stradivarius, your Majesty, was Wieniawsky s answer, whereupon the emperor remarked to Wielhorsky: 'You have also a Strad, have you not '. The count said, "No, your Majesty, I used to have one, but I gave it to-night to Carl Davidoff." The new owner of the violoncello now saw that the count had indeed not been joking. Wielhorski had bought the instrument from Count Apraksin for the sum of 50,000 francs (£2,000), and in addition to two beautiful horses. Wielhorsky had, for a long time past, intended to present his instrument to that 'cellist, who should play Romberg's Swiss Concerto best, and after he had given his violoncello to Davidoff he said: 'It is true I have never heart you play Romberg's Swiss Concerto, but I cannot imagine anyone playing it better than you.' "
After Davidov’s death in 1888 it was sold in Paris and eventually purchased in 1928 by Herbert Strauss, an American businessman. After he died, his widow sold the cello to Ismena Holland who presented it to her goddaughter, Jacqueline du Pré. Her teacher at the time, William Pleeth declared it to be ‘one of the really great instruments of the world’. Almost all of her recordings between 1968 to 1970 were made on the instrument. By 1970 she began using a modern cello by Sergio Peresson, as she was bothered by the Davidov’s ‘unpredictability’. Yo-Yo Ma later commented: “Jackie’s unbridled dark qualities went against the Davidov. You have to coax the instrument. The more you attack it, the less it returns.”
Upon her death in 1987 the instrument was bought by the Vuitton Foundation and was made available for use by Yo Yo Ma. He has since performed and recorded with the instrument mainly for baroque music, specifically the Simply Baroque and Simply Baroque II recordings. It was converted to a baroque setup for the task, but has subsequently been returned to a modern setup.
Yo-Yo Ma has also been quoted as saying:
“The Stradivari, in the other hand, has a remarkable combination of attributes. The pianissimos float effortlessly. The instrument's response is instantaneous. The sound can be rich, sensuous or throbbing at every range, yet can also be clear, cultured and pure. Each sound stimulates the player's imagination. However, there is no room for error as one cannot push the sound, rather it needs to be released. Since 1983 the cello's sound has been growing constantly, becoming richer, deeper and fuller. Part can be attributed to constant playing, causing it to vibrate more fully. Part may be due to my own changing aural aesthetics.”