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Montagnana cello model


Omobono
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Right - I know nothing about cellos, but

a chap I meet regularly at a shop not long back from his training as a maker in Cremona

has a very impressive cello in the white he tells me is a Montagnana nodel.

I think it looks fabulous - big, broad and powerful looking.

The Strad models beside it look rather diminutive by comparison.

Anybody much make many of these?

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It's a popular model but I don't use it. I think the model has some problems in design that unless you're very careful can result in a poor sounding cello with a collapsing top. The instrument is exceptionally wide, in order for the bow to clear the C bout the bridge has to be on the high side, but because spruce is typically not very stiff across the grain, the string tension needs to be kept fairly low, so the appui (overstand) must be raised. Even so, you had better be sure that the spruce you're using has sufficient cross grain strength, the arching suitable for the broad expanse and the wood kept as light as possible because the instrument is so big. The sound of these instruments can be quite wonderful but the tendency is for it to be somewhat dark and diffused. It's usually difficult to find a case that they fit into.

I wouldn't necessarily reject a Montagnana model cello but I would examine it very carefully first.

Oded Kishony

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YoYo Ma has both a Strad and a Montagnana, right? I wonder which he plays the most. In an effort to learn more about different styles of cellos, I recently ordered Cowling's "The Cello." It was cheap, but I hope it has some useful photos. Any opinions on this book? Are there any other books that might be good on the subject?

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Hi,

Yes I have made a few Montagnana model cellos, but my more regular model at the moment is a "B" style Strad model loosely based on a combination of the Goore-Both and the Davidoff Strads, I personally prefer the look and sound of the cellos that I make based on this model to the Montagnana ones I do.

The few Montagnanas that I've measured up seem to be different enough to make me find it hard to believe any of them where built on the same mold, so although they all have very strong characteristics relating them to one another they do seem to vary quite a bit in body lengths and widths...I chose one that is not too extreme in width and use that as a model, in fact I've just finished a baroque cello built on that model for the "Vivaldi project" baroque orchestra.

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Montagnana is currently the most popular cello for soloists. They have massive depth of sound and power.

Think of any solo cellist and he will be playing Montagnana. Yo Yo Ma (his main cello is Monty, Strad only for Baroque), Truls Mork, Lynn Harrell, Ralph kirshbaum, Frans Helmerson, Steven Isserlis etc..

In fact, it seems Strad is NOt the preferred cello model at the moment.

A word of warning to modern day luthiers out there. To copy a Montagnana is dangerous. 99 percent of the time it will not come close enough to the feel of a real Montagnana, much like Strad copies. The secrect is varnish and arching. Copies tend to be exact with outline but many do not seem to capture the spirit of the originals.

Everything comes in trends. Have the freedom to create your own models, one day Strad will come back into fashion. To be honest, the B-Forma Strad model is most comfortable for cellists, but a word of advice: JB Guadagnini is growing in popularity amongst the top cellists. Great tonal penetration, compact size, strong tenory sound.

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While it seems that many of Montagnana's cellos are on the broad side, the cello played by Isserlis is diminuitive in comparison. It was featured with a poster in last December's Strad. Some of the dimensions are more like a Strad cello than the typical Montagnana, including the width of the c-bouts.

http://www.schleske.de/05musik...cs/jpg/c0025decke.jpg

http://www.schleske.de/05musik...ics/jpg/c0025boden.jpg

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Steven Isserlis plays most of his concerts on the 'De Munck' Stradivarius of 1730, made when Stradivarius was around 86 years old!

The 'De Munck' is the 'anti-Montegnana' it is extra narrow and small. I've been making the De Munck model since 1987. It's a tricky model acoustically because of it's small size.

Oded Kishony

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The arching heights on the ones I've measured seem to vary as much as the lengths and widths do.................... But because the model I chose is not as extremely wide as some, I went for 31.5mm on both back and front which seemed to work fairly well on this last one.

I think I am the first to complete/hand in my instrument for this project and as there are some fairly high profile makers involved I'm a touch nervous about seeing them all together once every one is finished!

There is apparently going to be a book about the Venice project, but I'm afraid I have no idea if it will really happen and when.

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I loved the idea of baroque instruments with new looking. Instruments used in ancient music (lutes, theorbs, viols) are not antiquated in general.

I had the oportunity to see the Italian group Il Giardino Armonico last year. They produce a fantastic sound, most of them play on modern instruments, I think. And they are not orthodox about instruments, many used chin rests and shoulder rests.

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Manfio,

I agree. The idea of 'original practice' to try to replicate what people heard back then is a lovely idea. Most musicians doing this try to get the oldest instruments they can, however the fact of the matter is that there were no 300 year old violins in 1650. All the violins were relatively new:-)

Oded

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