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matesic

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  1. We can't see it either, not enough anyway.
  2. When I went violin shopping in Florence I couldn't afford one of Paolo Vettori's instruments but I still proudly carry a piece of his T-shirt. Also some shots of my string quartet going back up to 45 years
  3. I'm no expert at identification but I've just come from an auction house in the UK where there are always dozens of similarly sorry specimens on offer. Somebody always seems to buy them but I seriously wonder who'd want to play one.
  4. From an amateur quartet player's perspective I might argue in favour of the opposite contrast between first and second violins' inherent sound quality. Playing mostly in a higher register automatically confers greater penetration on the first, which can therefore "float" over a dense contrapuntal texture (or "a lot of noise") with relatively little effort. It's the middle parts that could sometimes benefit from a bit more edge to the sound. I don't think this question can be answered by a formula.
  5. http://harlemquartet.com/the-harlem-quartet/ It appears two members of the Harlem Quartet currently play instruments by Soltis. The viola is the oddball of the four. Some quartet players seem to prefer one whose tonal characteristics are fairly close to those the the violins. Others seem to prefer a more acidic, penetrating tone, while others again go for a rich fruitiness. "Blend" is then achieved not by the inherent tone of the instruments but by the skill of the players.
  6. The impracticality of this exercise consists in its presumption of four players who will actually want to play and sound according to the imagination of a maker. I do recall one group who subjected themselves to this; the maker was David Rubio and the recorded results that I heard were highly undistinguished. Of course this could have been due to the inadequacies of the players rather than the maker. One of the wonders of the string quartet is that it comprises four individual people with differing personalities, talents and styles who must subjugate their egos to the collective and discover how to synchronise, think and blend together. Has there ever been a quartet that had their "fantasy" instruments chosen for them, and then stuck to that choice? Any given combination of instruments is likely to sound quite different according to who is playing them.
  7. Here's one that may have been debated before but I haven't come across. Should one wear a watch on the left wrist or the right? What weight should it be to get the best vibrato or depth of tone? Apple or Rolex?
  8. And of course I did. As my boss used to say "your critics are your greatest friends".
  9. Of course it's amazing but did he have to play the whole movement? After 3 or 4 minutes I wanted it to stop.
  10. How about "made to be sold by a retailer using their own choice of label rather than that of the maker". I like the fact that early English trade violins often have the maker's signature beneath the table, showing that they were actually quite proud of their work.
  11. I suspect some groups just don't realise how loud they sound to an audience. On Easter Monday I was at a mixed string/wind chamber concert in a small but acoustically lively hall, the stage backed by a naked brick wall. The three wind players in a septet were fine; it was the cello and double-bass that reached me sounding mega-sized. I'm sure this was largely down to the acoustic space but it's easy for chamber groups of 5 or more to become "noisy" if players don't realise that they will always be heard. When they think they can't hear themselves sufficiently the solution isn't to play louder.
  12. Once upon a time... I believe my pet forgotten violinist/composer, Percy Hilder Miles, came by his Strad (one of the two "General Kyd" violins) that way, but that was in 1909. The last of the rich old ladies who used to frequent community orchestras in the UK seems to have deceased in the last century.
  13. When it's a skeleton key or a crowbar. I think "tool" here means "means of making beautiful music", maybe also "advancing one's career in music", but investing in a top instrument is not a viable option for many musicians with a career that needs advancing. Speaking as a very mediocre violinist I'm trying to imagine being schmoozed by a wealthy donor with a Strad - what could he or she possibly want in return? To misquote Jim Steinman and Meatloaf, I'd do anything for a Strad but I won't do that.
  14. I'm not sure what you mean. "Opens more doors" metaphorically I presume! I think we need to agree on a definition of "tool".
  15. George's statement is a bit ambiguous. Doesn't he mean that the value placed on a collectible violin is not determined by its usefulness as a tool? Most collectable (and incredibly valuable) items are of no tool use at all. Violins are different in that "usefulness" is a factor in their value but not the main determining one. How much more useful is a Strad than a Burgess or a Holmes?
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