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Everything posted by tradfiddle

  1. I had a chance to handle the Kreisler Parker "Strad" during the October sales. I was amused that two foreign dealers who were discussing it with some animation before me, actually were saying 'But this is not a Strad!?' having rather missed the point of the thing. One aspect of interest - it has the standard (facsimile?) Parker 1715 label in it - presumably removed by Kreisler when he termed it a Balestrieri? So the label was 'replaced' perhaps? If so, when and by whom? I have handled a number of Parker's over the past two decades at London sales, played those that were in playing condition and nearly bought one (though sadly outbid). The 'Kreisler' is less highly arched than most - though still slightly more arched than any Strad. This is something which I find particularly interesting/ confounding/ amusing about Parker instruments. They undoubtedly have outstanding tone (they carry, and yet have a real plumby richness to them), but they are of the same common 18th century British arching of instruments that Dilworth and others would term 'Stainer spoofs.' In short, highly arched violins - despite a reputation going all the way back to Honeyman for 'tubby tone' - can work (with the right materials, thicknessing and contours).
  2. Mr Saunders - I suppose that most historical enquiry does not meet with your approval given your very high standards? Personally I would rather light a candle and discuss issues with the data at hand, rather than damning the darkness and happily accepting ex cathedra pronouncements made 70 years after the fact. I shall not trouble you further... it hardly seems worth the time.
  3. re. 'the balance of logic is that he had a Strad' and 'the absence of facts' Let's run through this once again shall we... 1) Strad's were already relatively expensive in 1782 and Viotti was not a rich man at that time, or before it. 2) Viotti's life and finances are probably better documented than any other virtuouso with the possible exception of Paganini. 3) No one at the time (1782) said that he was playing a Strad. 4) Viotti spent a good deal of time in the Piedmont prior to 1780 and is said to have met Cozio, who would have been a source of Strads - but Cozio himself writes (in 1816) that Viotti 'generally used and dealt in the violins of Cappa'. 5) 'Viotti's violin' which he is said in the advertisment to have played for some time - a Ruggieri - sells in Paris c. 1802 6) Viotti is documented to have purchased his main Stradivarius only in 1810 - there are no Viotti pedigree Strads that have an association earlier than this And what exactly does the old Fetis (1856) story have on its side? That a magical new violin sound can only come from a certain violin (a magical Stradivari violin) and not from the violinist himself or another fine instrument. As far as historical evidence goes this is a fairly good grouping - and I speak as a professional academic in the field. If you are looking for something more concrete, then we would probably never be able to advance any arguments about the past. This is not 'proof' but it is a good reason to reconsider old certainties.
  4. Remember that once Viotti's fame peaked he made a living on dealing in violins - so many of the Strads with his 'pedigree' were merely bought and sold by him...
  5. Lister does not opt for a single option - as there is no 'proof' - but rather throws out alternative possibilities in no particular order: Guadagnini (available at Viotti's point of origin and relatively inexpensive for an as yet relatively unknown violinist), Cappa (because that is what Cozio said he played) or Ruggieri (because one was sold as having belonged to him in 1802). The prices quoted are from Lister, he cites Rosengard 2000 as their source (the Guadagnini book). I think that the initial 'myth maker' regarding Viotti was Fetis in 1856. Subsequent myth-makers followed along with this aspect of the legend. To have Viotti playing a Strad in 1782 makes for a good narrative. But as has been cited, there is evidence that something was already underway earlier. My point is that we should not take too much of the mythos as read - as Ben Hebbert indicates would a Strad-influenced Guadagnini really have sounded that different from a Strad?
  6. I think has more to do with the post hoc notion of: 1) it sounded great and was a 'new sound' - therefore it must be a Strad, and 2) Viotti subsequently owned a few Strads (but in the mid-19th century his letters were not available, so it was not known that he only acquired his great Strad in 1810). I believe the idea of borowing a 'great fiddle' for a concert is a rather 20th century one. Early players and audiences were perhaps a bit less fetishistic about what was being played (in terms of makers). The first I ever heard of such things was Veracini and his Stainers. If I am not mistaken, the first textual mention of a Stradivari violin in France was Chappuy offering one for sale in the 1770s. Note also another possibility: the sale in 1802 in Paris of a violin by "Bautista Ruggiero [G.B. Ruggieri], with his name and the date 1704 inside, perfectly preserved and for a long time played by the celebrated Viotti" (Appendix in Lister 2010: 396)
  7. Notionally, he might have been playing a Guadagnini instead. There is no proof that he owned one before 1810 and because of his extensive and preserved correspondence his life is relatively well documented. The idea he was playing a Strad seems to have been asserted in the first wave of Victorian violin books because his playing (tone) caused such a sensation at the time. No contemporary sources stated he was playing a Strad at the 1782 concerts. For that matter he is often credited with popularising the Tourte style bow - but the one portrait of him with a bow (made in London post 1792) shows him holding a (long) Baroque style bow... The problem is that many of these legends came about from claims made in the violin (fandom) literature from the 1850s onward and they have been taken as gospel ever since.
  8. I think that the Chi-Mei Viotti Strad is the ex-Marie Hall that passed through Viotti's hands but was not his main fiddle.
  9. I have been reading a recent biography of Viotti (Amico: The life of Giovanni Battista Viotti by Warwick Lister, Oxford University Press, 2010). In doing so, it becomes clear that Viotti was quite possibly not playing a Strad in his legendary 1782 Paris concerts (events so often cited in the violin literature as a cause for initial European Strad-mania). Lister notes that "there is no specific evidence to support this tradition.' The Stradivari violin currently associated with his name and presently in the Royal Academy of Music was not acquired by him until 1810. Other possibilities cited by Lister include an instrument by Guadagnini. It is instructive to note that Viotti's total income in 1776 was L.350. At that time Stradivari violins were selling at L.260 to 440, while those of Guadagnini could be had for L.60 to L.90. Cozio himself wrote that Viotti preferred the violns of Giofreddo Cappa, although Lister does not set too much store in Cozio's claims. Regardless, it is yet another element of the Stradivarius legend - as constructed in the 19th century - that requires closer scrutiny.
  10. I'm an historical archaeologist by profession and spend a good deal of time in archives - particularly French ones - on documents dating between c. 1700 and1800. I hate to disappoint, but the majority of common private documents (letters,legal documents not on animal skin, etc.) anywhere in this time range are now light brown in colour. Ledgers often are much whiter for whatever reason. I think that label colour will be highly variable, whatever the period, and will depend on a number of factors ranging from original paper stock to environmental conditions. Label colour should not be used as a diagnostic criterion (unless of course it is stark white, or clearly 'tea-stained' and you can see the tell-tale signs of photocopying or traces of a dot matrix...).
  11. Maybe so, but in the first three images on the video he is only using a steel E (with adjuster) in the second image of the sequence (when a solidly grey-haired man, presumably in the 1930s/1940s). Even in this one only the G looks wound, with a steel E and gut D and A. In the other two images only the G looks wound, the other strings have the thickness, sheen and mode of attachment one would expect of pure gut. This is also the case in other 1920s images I have seen of Kreisler. Also, to my ear its sounds like he is using a gut E. The real 1920s anti-gut militant was, of course, Tertis the violist, who broke off his friendship with Primrose for a while when he saw him using a pure gut A !
  12. ps. I love that Kreisler recording! Its a sort of tone you just don't hear anymore - and shows the beauty of gut strings (or at least a gut E).
  13. Yes, absolutely. I suppose I was wondering more about the wisdom of acquiring or investing in violins with soundpost patches and whether even if by a well known maker they would always be 'sub-par' for playing.
  14. Interesting that on the photo of the instrument both G and D strings are wound. I am glad that its not just me who finds it difficult to like pure gut d strings (most die above first position). My 'Baroque/ Classical' instruments are strung in that same combination (two wound/ two pure gut), though I would prefer finding a gut d (even a gimped or partial wound one) that really 'worked'. I cannot imagine that Kreisler and Elman and all those golden greats who used pure gut d's had this problem. As to the sound recording, its sounds a trifle dry and non-resonant compared to alot of the original Baroque instruments I've had under my ear. Then again, maybe its just the acoustic of the recording.
  15. Do sound post patches really have a permanent negative tonal effect on an instrument? I used to think that this was inevitably the case, but then I've seen some major old Italian instruments with sound post patches and they seem to be doing fairly well. Is it a question of the quality of the repair work? Or is the impact more a question of value than of tone? Many thanks for opinions/ observations Tradfiddle
  16. The truth is, the relative value of some commodities has gone through the roof since the mid-nineteenth century, others have not. In terms of relative value both property and violins have gone through the roof. For example my family owned a seven bedroom terraced house in Bayswater in the 1870s - value then £2,800. Today the same house has been converted to five flats. The value of each? Around £1,000,000. Fine violins are something similar. Values have gone crazy.
  17. Hmmm, I know the economic forces that are at play (from both top-end dealers and concert goers) - but the film was made by an independent maker - you would have thought more imagination would have been shown. It would have been much more interesting to have her try some new instruments, or even some non-Cremona older instruments and confront the issue.
  18. Also available on DVD via Paypal direct from the film maker at: http://www.insearchofthemessiah.com/ Price £13.50 I've already ordered my copy, despite some reservations about its cultic content...
  19. For those in Oz who watched the whole thing through - the very interesting 2 minute trailer seems to imply that purchasing a first class new instrument was not even considered by Ruth Palmer. Does the documentary really take the 'irreplacable magic of Stradivarius' line?
  20. Henley has (quite a short entry): Pazarini, Antonio Worked with Calcani in Genoa, 1720. Died 1744. Large pattern, high arching, yellow brown varnish. Violins made by Calcani alone essentially differ from those bearing both names, and are considerably superior. label: Antonius Pazarinius et Calcanius Genaue 1740 Yet another spelling - but at least Latinised.
  21. A-ha. Antonio Pazarini does exist. But still, I remain a bit suspicious... Cozio only lists three Pazarini violins: one labelled 'GB Grancino' and attributed to Pazarini, one with no given label, and a third labelled 'Antonio Pazarin Genua 1738'. Nothing on Tarisio. On Skinner there was one instrument labelled 'Pazarini' in their April 2010 sale, but dismissed as 'a violin c.1880'. With so few examples around it is a wonder that unlabelled (or wrongly labelled) instruments can be confidently attributed to him. And why the latinising of his name to 'Pesarinius' in 1739, when a 1738 example carries 'Pazarin'?
  22. Listening today to Rachel Podger's Mozart violin sonatas once again, I thought about her violin the 'very rare 1739 Pesarinius of Genoa', which has a very distinctive and satisfying tone. I consulted Henley but could not find him. Perhaps he is in some other reference that I lack? I can only wonder if this is not the case of one of those invented labels of the late 19th c. fiddle craze when an unidentified Italian - or dare I say - British instrument [such as a Parker] might be accorded the provenance of some obscure Italian luther? This does nothing to distract from the sound of the violin, which is sublime... If you Google 'Pesarinius' you find only endless references to Podger's recordings. Am I being needlessly heretical? Tradfiddle
  23. This is a fairly obscure question I'm afraid... Maxim Berezovsky (1745-1777), the famous Russian choral music composer, apparently also wrote either a Violin Concerto or Sonata - I have heard it recorded by Russian artists as both. I have tried from time to time to find the music for it over the past decade without sucess. Does anyone know anything more about this piece or where I might find the sheet music for it?
  24. Jacob - cut Horse shoe nails, like the cut nails used today for floorboards, are very different in cross-section from the wrought nails used in Baroque violins - indeed such cut nails were not even available during the Baroque period. See my illustration above of an 18th century wrought nail.
  25. I heard both instruments in a variety of circumstances during the Cannon's RAM visit: on two different occasions in a hall, and once in a room within touching distance (as well as the Cannon in two different set-ups). I was much more impressed with the Viotti - perhaps for the reasons that Melvin G. outlines. The Viotti had greater brightness, clarity and volume (even when both were in modern set-up, strung with Evah Pirazzi's I believe). I hope that it is recorded soon. RAM tend to make such 'instrument' CDs (like that of the King Charles Amati) - so contacting David Rattray is a good idea.
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