For the past four years, The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s sound has been enriched by principal violinist Richard Tognetti’s $10-million instrument, the 1743 “Carrodus” made by Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù” and rumoured to have been played by Paganini. Now assistant leader Satu Vänskä has been entrusted with the latest addition to the ACO’s arsenal: a coveted Stradivarius.

In a manner of speaking, the $1.79m violin is two instruments for the price of one: it is a composite of two examples of Antonio Stradivari’s work from 1728 and 1729, the original front of one violin joined with the back and sides of another. This is common practice in the restoration of treasures from the “golden age of stringed instruments”. Stradivari was the most revered luthier of his time, of whose work only 650 specimens survive today.

Vänskä gives her debut with the violin in the ACO’s Baroque Virtuositour in July, in which the notoriously difficult Devil’s Trillwill showcase this Strad’s unique sound.

She has already formed a strong bond with her fiddle. “This beautiful instrument has a very keen and admiring custodian,” she said today in a statement. “Its distinctive, brilliant beauty of...