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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: This is from the second movement, the slow middle movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo in D Minor." It's known for short as "Bach's Double Concerto." Over the years, it's been recorded by many duos of great violinists, but this recording is different. It's from the new album "AIR: The Bach Album" by Anne Akiko Meyers and on this recording she plays both parts, but each with a different one of her two prized Stradivarius violins.

Anne Akiko Meyers joins us now from Austin, Texas, to talk about Bach, her new recording and her very old violins. Welcome to the program.

ANNE AKIKO MEYERS: Thank you so much, Robert.

SIEGEL: And first, tell me about the double concerto and about your interest in playing it.

MEYERS: Well, it's one of the most fascinating compositions written and it fascinated me that many people were so curious to hear how two violins that I suddenly came into acquiring - how they would sound together. So I came up with the brilliant idea of recording both parts, the first part in London with the English Chamber Orchestra and the second part in New York, onstage with earphones.

SIEGEL: You mean you listened to the first recording through earphones when you recorded the second.

MEYERS: That's right. Several months later.

SIEGEL: And were you complaining in your head about the first violinist as you were recording the second violinist? You were saying, what is she - why is she playing it that way?

MEYERS: Why is she doing it that fast and - got to calm her down.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CONCERTO FOR TWO VIOLINS, STRINGS AND CONTINUO IN D MINOR")

SIEGEL: Which violin is which? And tell us a bit about the fiddles.

MEYERS: Well, I played the first violin part on the Napoleon Molatore Strad dated 1697 and recorded that section in London. And then I did the second violin part on the Royal Spanish violin dated 1730, also by Strad. And I chose those parts for each voice, being that the Royal Spanish has a little more kind of masculine tone to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CONCERTO FOR TWO VIOLINS, STRINGS AND CONTINUO IN D MINOR")

MEYERS: And Molly, I call her, is really this very pure, beautiful crystalline voice and I thought that would just be so suitable for the first violin part.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CONCERTO FOR TWO VIOLINS, STRINGS AND CONTINUO IN D MINOR")

SIEGEL: We hear the violin that's playing first is the more - as you would say, it's the more feminine sound.

MEYERS: Yes. It's definitely the higher register of the double concerto is the first violin part and the lower bass notes are on the Royal Spanish.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CONCERTO FOR TWO VIOLINS, STRINGS AND CONTINUO IN D MINOR")

SIEGEL: People who aren't entirely familiar with you may not hear what I'm saying when I say Anne Akiko Meyers. Your middle name is Akiko. It's a Japanese name.

MEYERS: That's right. My mother is Japanese. My father is American.

SIEGEL: And you grew up in California?

MEYERS: Yes. I was born in San Diego and studied in the Los Angeles area at the Coleburn School of Performing Arts.

SIEGEL: How young were you when you started playing the violin?

MEYERS: I was four years old. You know, there's a story that my mother played a lot of music for me when she was pregnant with me. And she played a lot of Beethoven, violin concerto by David Oistrakh once I was born, and especially when she fed me, so I would associate, you know, pleasure of food and eating with music.

SIEGEL: You were trained. This is the Pavlovian treatment to raise a violinist.

MEYERS: Yeah. I get hungry every time I play.

SIEGEL: Well, thanks to the miracle of the Internet and YouTube, this performance of yours is available to posterity. This is when you were 11.

(SOUNDBITE OF "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

JOHNNY CARSON: My first guests are students of the Community School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Now, they're 10 and 11 years old. Would you welcome, please, the Angel Ensemble of California?

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: And after being introduced by Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," you're the little one towering over the other kids there.

MEYERS: I'm the one with the long knee socks on that I still haven't forgiven my mother that she put me on national TV wearing long knee socks. Oh, boy.

SIEGEL: That must have been very exciting.

MEYERS: It was very exciting and he was very generous.

SIEGEL: There is another performance of yours that's been recorded for posterity on YouTube and that is when you played the national anthem at a Seattle Mariners baseball game.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER")

MEYERS: That was just such an honor to be asked to get up in front of 42,000 screaming fans and play the national anthem was just so thrilling and I'm very proud to say that the Mariners went on to win, like, three games after that and I like to just completely credit myself for them winning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER")

SIEGEL: Anne Akiko Meyers, thank you very much for talking with us today.

MEYERS: Thank you so much.

SIEGEL: And the album we've been talking about is "AIR: The Bach Album" and it's by Anne Akiko Meyers, the violinist, and the English Chamber Orchestra.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: You can hear more from the CD "AIR: The Bach Album" by Anne Akiko Meyers at our website, NPRMusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: This is NPR News.

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