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Kenneth Warren Exhibition


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Had the chance to visit an exhibition of violins from Kenneth Warren (Chicago). I attended a similar display some two years ago when there were even more instruments than this time.

Instruments on display included: Brothers Amati, Rogeri, Ruggeri, M. Bergonzi, L. Storioni, Alex. Galgiano, Giuseppe Guadagnini, two Paolo Testore fiddles, Calcanius, Gragnani, Guerra, Cavani, Ceruti, Scarampella, as well as a number of less commonly-seen common makers (Monzino, Maule, Brandini et alia.)

What intrigued me was that quite a number were rather unusual examples (to my amateur eye at least) e.g. the Scarampella, for instance was really wild and rough looking in its finish. The Giuseppe Guadagnini nothing like one I had previously seen.

Amati, Bergonzi and Ruggeri all sounded fabulous.

One thing I picked up was to check the strings on each instrument before playing them. If they all had Dominant strings, for instance, this eliminates, one parameter, when trying to compare and evaluate response. When, as was the case yesterday, they were strung with all sorts of combinations, it makes things that little more complicated.

same too with bows, of course. I picked up one of those available and used that throughout.

Amazing how one feels immediately at home on some fddles and struggle to play another with any freedom. I'm sure this too is a factor in trying and choosing instruments. Sometimes do we try to impose ourselves too much rather than allow each example to express itself?

Great fun, anyway. If I win the Lottery I'll be back to buy one. (Pricey though: the Calcanuis with a back crack (well restored and virtually invisible, mind you) still had a price tag of 60k.


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Sorry, not in Chicago.... you'll have to take an airplane to the Far East.

Forgot to mention a Ventepane that looked as fresh as if it had been made last year. Someone must have kept it in a closet for a century or more.

The Scarampella really was a fright to look at - almost like a Picasso parady of a violin - bouts & all f-holes over the place, minimal arching on the back and a miserable excuse for varnish. Such a thing as an "impressionist" violin? Didn't actually play it - too many other tempting beauties.


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Did try both the Gagliano and Storioni.... but to be honest do not have a lasting impression of either. Strangely though, I did have preconceptions of how both might sound.

Perhaps it's like wine-tasting - after a while the aural faculties become a little impared like the tastebuds.

As I tried to say above, I'm sure my efforts didn't do them justice, so many subjective factors involved.

With regard to these travelling instruments:- I believe they cannot be bought direct on site but must be returned to Chicago and importation negotiating - rules of the exhibition. There find there way here (like similar exhibitions from Bein & Fushi and Beare) because there is "money" around for the right kind of goods and its tempting to pay even the high prices asked rather than try to find something overseas yourself, I guess.

The only one that someone seemed to have taken enough interest in to actually take and trial was a Postiglione. The local agent thought the Guerra looked like good value for both investment and as a playing instrument.


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