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Everything posted by matesic

  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?
  16. Quite so. With what I assume to be a pretty ordinary violin I wonder how much difference there's likely to be between "best" and "second best" sound and who's likely to notice it? I think a compassionate luthier should only suggest work proportionate in price to the value of the instrument. If it isn't too drastic they might even grit their teeth and suggest the OP hack it at home.
  17. Craske is supposed to have worked alone but rumour has it that along with hundreds of unsold violins, Hill's acquired large numbers of parts from the detritus of his workshop and proceeded to assemble, varnish and market them. So was the George Craske "sold by William E. Hill & Sons" a compulsive and highly prolific workhorse or a collective?
  18. While undergoing group therapy for incipient alcoholism, Chris my friend of 40-odd years attended AA meetings in which two of his (absentee) classmates appeared on the register as Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. Although I can't imagine why anyone should be shy of giving their real name to a violin-making class.
  19. Eventually we all become aware that we're on the wrong side of a generation gap and that the technology we struggled to master 25 years ago is obsolescent. I have no idea how to operate a mobile phone but for a PC (possibly also an iMac?) can recommend a cheap program called PhotoPad Image Editor by NCH software. Using this one can independently manipulate the size of an image and its resolution. For example a jpeg image can first be reduced in size from say 4000x3000 pixels to 1000x750 (as you can also do with Paint), then data-compressed from several megabytes to just one or two hundred kB. When viewed at the size of a 21" computer screen the loss of detail will hardly be noticeable.
  20. Since the deed is already done, why not just take it to your local luthier and ask for an estimate? It really isn't a good idea to start with preconceived ideas, particularly not ideas conned from a selection of "advisors" none of whom have seen the instrument.
  21. With so much new stuff to choose from, people seem to have less and less inclination to clutter up their lives with "collectable" old stuff. Consequently the antiques market in the UK has been in steady decline for decades. Punters on the Antiques Road Show usually look satisfied when told their thingy that cost them £100 in 1970 is now worth £300, but according to my PBI (price of beer index) it should be at least 5 times that and to sell for a sum equivalent to the initial outlay maybe twice again. My first serious violin bought around 1970 would probably cost 30 times more today but that still isn't enough to have been a "good investment".
  22. I care, although not very much. I may not be their target audience (although I'm one of the small minority who understand what they're talking about) but it's got to the point where I squirm more than I laugh and this particular clip made me squirm. Comedians must evolve or die.
  23. Maybe if they'd just stop pretending to be Wayne and Garth and find another schtick.
  24. The flaw with that argument is that looks are subjective and inexpert eyes simply don't know what features are significant. Ask an expert and you'll often find they can't easily express what they're looking for either, although they certainly know at a subconscious level. With identification skills honed over many years you might expect to be able to predict the market value of a violin with some accuracy on the basis of its looks, but sound quality introduces a further range of imponderables. Does sound quality even correlate with market value? If so, as played by a beginner or an expert? As assessed by a dealer, a luthier, a player or a listener?
  25. I don't believe any violin I could afford to pay a fair retail price for is likely to prove a good investment in the short, medium or long term.
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