When Ukrainian-born violinist Vadim Gluzman performs Tchaikovsky’s well-loved Violin Concerto in Perth and Melbourne this month, he will do so on the violin that was to have been used for its premiere – were it not for the reservations of its former owner, legendary violinist and teacher Leopold Auer.

While the instrument has a storied past, it’s been in Gluzman’s hands for 20 years now. “You know how a tree grows roots into the ground? This is how I feel with this violin,” he says of the 1690 Stradivari, on extended loan to him through the Stradivari Society of Chicago. “It is basically an extension of who I am.”

Vadim Gluzman Vadim Gluzman. Photo © Marco Borggreve

Gluzman admits that under those circumstances it’s difficult to be objective, but for him certain qualities the violin possesses are outstanding, and he imagines they were also an inspiration to Tchaikovsky, Glazunov and other composers writing for Auer. “It has an unusually dark low register,” he says. “It feels like I am playing a viola. And it has the most incredibly sweet top register.”

Listening to Tchaikovsky’s Concerto, he says, you can see how he uses these features....