"Few musical people today realize, even after decades of hearing music on period instruments, how profound were the modernizations of the nineteenth century. In the age of the railroad and the suspension bridge, violin makers built their instruments with longer necks, steeper neck angles, higher bridges, longer and heavier bass bars, and thicker plates than the older Cremonese masters had used. When antique instruments came through their shops for repairs, they did not hesitate to add "modern" features to them. Ironically, Stradivari's enormous reputation thus ensured that none of his violins would survive in anything approaching its original condition. "The careful restoration of the priceless Amati and Stradivari violins in the Collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the playing of music appropriate to them on this recording, afford the listener a rare opportunity to hear great instruments as their makers conceived them. Was the violin improved when it achieved its modern form in the nineteenth century? The magic of this recording suggests that this is a very open question."