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What's the BEST SOUNDING instrument you've played?


WesRist
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I vote for Stern (or the player also) I played that violin you speak of and it was quite good - but it wasn't amazing by any means. I have played on a three Strads and they were all terrific - but for sheer pleasure I enjoyed playing on a Guadagnini the most. (Mind you these were just 15-30 minute sessions - to get to know a violin and how to play it takes most people (me certainly) much longer. The worst :good violin": an A. Contino - sounded like crow being sawed in half - followed by a Bisiach (younger) that was all scratch.

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I will say that the violin is of 20% important, and the player with his ability 80%. I have heard Sarah Chang, Midori, Kremer, Bell, Shaham, Hahn, A.S. Mutter,..at Berlin Philharmonic. Sarah and Hahn are definitively easier to hear (have bigger sounds) because their violins are Del Gesu and Del Gesu model of Vuillaume. Although, Kremer played a Del Gesu but his sound was a bit thin for my taste; and Mutter played a Strad but her sound was the most beautiful sound i have heard in my poor life. It's amazing! Shaham has a beautiful sound too, but it's a bit small for my ear and after his concert i knew that his violin is a 1690 Strad. From Midori i hardly heard a phase with all the notes. It's too small and her violin is again a Strad.

I feel that if all of them played Del Gesus, i could hear them much better.

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Hi,

Are you talking about "the same distance" and "live performances" of these virtuosos and you heard of them playings or it was only your over-all impressions of them at various time and various places ? Recordings or sound through mircro-phones are not good reflections of the performances of their fine instruments, I noticed. /yuen

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The best sounding violin I've played is a del Gesu (ex-Wienawski), which has been played with top-level orchestras around the world. It is also one of the most demanding violins I've played. It demanded a certain broadness of bow stroke and depth of bow contact - it would not tolerate jerky, sudden movements. But when played correctly - oh wow - the sound just poured out of the thing. The richest, woodiest, most satisfyingly massive sound I've ever produced on a violin. It had an overall dark quality, but with a certain ring to it that would easily carry to the last person in the highest row of the biggest concert hall. Not sure how much it is worth - I would call it priceless - but it is probably insured in the $3-4 million range.

The easiest violin to play (and the second-best sounding) was a Nicolo Amati. I could just play this violin all day - a very sweet, pure, ringing tone, and perfect balance between the strings. It demanded a fine bow, but that was the only thing it demanded. It was a sweetheart. I could tell there was enough body in the sound to tackle the romantic concertos, but that the violin would be happiest in more intimate settings, blending with other strings. I'm not sure if I remember the price correctly, but I believe the shop was asking $350 K.

Even with the experience of playing a number of fine violins, I still feel (as every violinist should) that my violin holds its own. It is a flexible instrument, with a perfectly smooth transition from rich lower strings to brilliant upper strings. In fact, I recently had a last-minute opportunity to play the del Gesu described above in a concert, but I went with my violin instead. It is a 2000 Raymond Melanson worth maybe ~$13,000.

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I heard them all live, of course. To Hahn, Sarah Chang, Kremer, Shaham, Mutter i was only about 4-6 meters from them, also very closed; to Midori and Bell about 12-15m. I heard Midori, Hahn, Kremer, Mutter all last years and Bell last month, Shaham last week, Sarah Chang last night . Three or four times i had the same place, too. I hope it's Ok to make a comparison.

Shaham has a ready small sound to me because i was only about 4m, front from him, but i could not hear him as clear as Hahn, Mutter or Sarah Chang.

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I was a regular visitor to Wurlitzer's in N.Y. at the time they bought the Hottinger collection. (For those not familiar with it, there were 12 great Strads,5 GDG's, as well as the greatest Amatis, a Ruggeri,Bergonzi,the Rotondo Gagliano, a Camilli,Montagnana,Landolfi, Ceruti, Stainer and the Wilhelmj Guadagnini.

Trying out these instruments was an experience beyond compare, and a great priviledge. I remember many of them vividly. The Dolphin Strad had a beautiful but not huge tone, and was available for 100K. The Lord Norton was the one with the dark, booming voice, the Derenberg light and silvery. I was able to aquire the De Chaponay Strad, 1722, one of the few perfectly preserved examples(60K) and played it ecstatically for 14 years. It sounded soft under the ear but carried wonderfully. Later in my life, responsibilities set in, raising a family etc. and I could no longer afford the insurance. Jaques Francais sold it for me in'79 to Daniel Heifetz, who I understand still plays it.

But the absolutely greatest sounding Strad (or violin) I ever had the honor to play on was the Hubay, 5 yrs ago, at Jaques Francais. It was stunningly beautiful, had 2 sap marks running down which from a distance looked like cracks, but were not, and had a

pure, ringing golden voice with so much power, I could not even begin to go all out with it in the short time available.

Interesting footnote- the violin which I love most today, and which comes closest tonally to the De Chaponay, is a 1920 Alfred Lanini. It is in my little collection, and whenever I play it I am reminded of the glory days. Just to get it out of the way I am 60 and counting!

All of your input has been fascinating, thanks to all. Cheers, Larry.

I still miss the De Chaponay, but am glad that Daniel has it ,as he can without doubt do it more justice than I ever could.

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It's not a big surprise for me. I have tried many new master made violins by big names (Italian + German) from 6000$-18000$, but no one could compare with my 2500€ old german violin, especially in term of mellowness. People agree with me too and my violin is not an especially violin at all. There are many violin of this class at shops.

I talked to some good makers about violin market and they said that it was crazy that some makers can get $20K fo a new violin and have 3-5 years waiting list. They said that all new violins today are not very different from one to one. Violins by makers who get 6000$ are not necessarily much worse than violins by makers who sell their violins for $20K and good marketing is the biggest background for good price, more important than quality.

Of course new violins need time to mature. I think at least 3-10years of hard playing-in is necessary for a new violin to get its sound.

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Great story, guta! What an incredible experience it must be, to decide to buy a Strad. One day...

If Mr. Heifetz is still playing the De Chaponay, I can confirm that it carries very well - in fact, from the back of a small hall, it is one of the loudest violins I have ever heard!

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"I talked to some good makers about violin market and they said that it was crazy that some makers can get $20K fo a new violin and have 3-5 years waiting list. They said that all new violins today are not very different from one to one."

I'm sure there were makers who said the same thing about Amati. Or about Pressenda.

On the face of it does it make logical sense, truly, that ALL violins, that ALL makers are making violins that are worth about the same (in craftsmanship) and sound about the same? Seems to me in every generation of makers there have been a handful that stood out, for demonstrable reasons. I see no reason why this should NOT be the case in the current generation.

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I would be remiss if I did not mention how impressed I was with David Tseng's violin. Because we're not far from each other he let me try the Strad copy he made. It became the benchmark for me in terms of resonance, depth of tone, and quickness. I have played a lot of instruments since then and have concluded that it is really a special instrument.

Someone else here should try it. I'd love to hear what you think. Beware: It's yellow.

Best!

Wes

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re:"...no one could compare with my 2500 Euro old German violin, especially in term of mellowness." Raphael

I agree that this can often be the case, when you find a high quality old German.

Here is a question for Jeffrey: I just visited your website, and saw that you list 2 very fine Roths from the 20's. You categorize them as "... for advancing students, enthusiastic amateurs, or professionals who require a second instrument."

My question is, do you see a time coming when these instruments will possibly be re- evaluated, and no longer be seen as student instruments or back-ups, and simply viewed as being able to stand on their own as top quality German work? My own impression is that we are beginning a gradual transition in how we view the instruments of Roth, Gutter, Knorr,etc.

All best, Larry.

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Hi Larry,

I heard a story that might involve your ex-strad. My friend was working at a hotel as a porter and happened to take something to Daniel Heifetz's room. He explained to Mr. Heifetz that he was a french horn major and they struck up a conversation. After a while, my friend asked if he could see Mr. Heifetz's violin. Mr. Heifetz made him sit on the bed so that all would be safe while he was allowed to hold the violin for about 2 minutes. My friend ended up talking to Mr. Heifetz for 45 minutes. He said that he was luck he wasn't fired over that long delivery.

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Here is a question for Jeffrey: I just visited your website, and saw that you list 2 very fine Roths from the 20's. You categorize them as "... for advancing students, enthusiastic amateurs, or professionals who require a second instrument."


Since Jeffrey isn't chiming in I thought I'd mention the Roth that just went through e-Bay the other day. About 100 years old and in what looked like fantastic condition, only 2 bids received, went for a measly $910.00. All the ones I saw in Minneapolis were selling (retail of course) for $5-6000.00! What a steal!

Wes

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Hi Ornati, Thanks for that interesting account of the De Chaponay's travels! The reason I believe that Daniel still owns it is that 3 years ago on a brief visit to Morel Gradoux-Matt in N.Y. I asked Mr. Morel about it, and I seem to remember him saying Daniel Heifetz still owned it. Anyway, it's great to know that it is being taken such good care of. All Best, Larry.

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Wes- One other thought- for a retail price, 5-6K is even on the reasonable side. There are are some really great and perfect Roths at retailers on the net at 7K and higher.

Maybe Jeffrey is taking a vacation or something. My next request was going to be to ask him to post some pictures of his Roths. They looked really nice in the double case photo a few months ago. ........ Jeffrey?.........Jeffrey?........

All Best, Larry.

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Hi Wes- Where was I when that Roth was sold on Ebay! (on M.N. of course) oh well.


Argh!!!

I could have mentioned it on the board here, but when I asked for people to express what kind of instrument they were looking for nobody said anything! (See my thread "Who's looking for an instrument?") It was for instances JUST like this.

Oh well...

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That would be a fabulous idea. I'd like to see what other 1925 Roths look like!


I took pictures of the ones I saw in Minneapolis. (Attached)

The scratched up one is about a 1920's model and had the most amazing sound. Super super resonant, almost like a cello! A truly special instrument...and I tried a LOT! I think it was $6g at House of Note.

Enjoy!

Wes

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