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At this year’s Suntory Hall Chamber Music Garden festival in Tokyo the Kuss Quartet performed a complete Beethoven cycle on the ‘Paganini’ quartet of Stradivaris, on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation. Gavin Dixon spoke to the players about this very special project – and learnt a little more about the Suntory phenomenon
The Kuss Quartet performs Beethoven at Suntory Hall s Blue Rose chamber space on the Paganini quartet of Stradivaris in June 2019

It is a once in a lifetime thing’, says William Coleman, violist of the Kuss Quartet, ‘something I will never forget.’ In June, the quartet visited Tokyo for a unique series of concerts: the complete Beethoven string quartets performed on the ‘Paganini’ quartet of Stradivari instruments which once belonged to the great 19th-century virtuoso and is now owned by the Nippon Music Foundation. The performances took place at Blue Rose, the chamber music space at Suntory Hall, Japan’s leading classical music venue, and were recorded by Rubicon Classics for release in Beethoven’s 250th birthday year, 2020.

Suntory Hall – built and wholly supported by the Japanese drinks company Suntory – is located in the prestigious central Tokyo region of Akasaka. It opened in 1986, the project instigated by Suntory’s then president, Keizo Saji, who enlisted the help of Japanese cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, now president of Suntory Hall. The main hall, overseen by acoustics guru Yasuhisa Toyota, became the envy of the world and the model for many later venues, including ones in Paris and Hamburg.

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About The Strad

We mark 100 years of Elgar’s Cello Concerto and examine Sgarabotto’s violins. Plus interviews Boris Kuschnir, Daniel Müller-Schott and Richard Tognetti, and our annual Cremona supplement.