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Urban Luthier

Philip Dukes plays Strad Archinto Viola

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Some very fine photos showing with Philip Dukes Playing Strad Archinto Viola. The images show off the belly arching and varnish very nicely! And you can hear him here.

Can someone explain to me why Strad violas get a bad rap? I read complains about the oversized scroll (started by the Hills?),'un-viola' like sound etc. Honestly, to my eye this is one of the most balanced looking Strads I've ever seen. The arching, edge work, outline, scroll, varnish all work in harmony. And it sounds fabulous to my ear. (The fine recording of the Walton concerto with Vengerov and Rostropovich is a case in point)

At any rate i though this group might enjoy the photos as they show off the instrument very well

Chris

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Thanks for drawing our attention to it. You're right. Could hardly fault the look or sound on the basis of what you refer to here.

Those extended/elongated corners are quite characteristic, unlike the earlier Mahler Strad viola.

You're right though about the seeming unpopularity of the model.

Seem to see far more Guarneri 'Conte Vitale' and Brescians.

454454v.jpg

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Well, I can only go by what has always been said by the unwashed masses, which includes me, that Strad violas are not up to Gaspars, Magginis, Amatis. Whether it's true or not, it's been repeated over and over in polite company as long as I remember. I know that Primrose used an Amati, then a Guarneri; Trampler used an Amati; LIllian Fuchs I believe had a da Salo. It's pretty hard to beat Primrose, who most likely could have had a Strad if he wanted one.

I personally don't like the sound I just heard, but it would be unfair to assume it's the viola without knowing all the circumstances. It surely is gorgeous.

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Those extended/elongated corners are quite characteristic, unlike the earlier Mahler Strad viola.

funny, the Mahler strikes me as being closer in form to the Amati and Guarneri contralto violas.

The dimensions of he Archinto are a little larger than the other CV form violas I believe. When you overlay the outline of this with the Gibson for example, it appears the overhang is more pronounced on the Archintio in certain places. I have a theory that Strad left the top block proud when making the Archinto on the CV form -- this could explain why it is slightly longer than some of the other surviving violas -- it looks very much like a scaled up 'long strad'.

Sadly it is likely the ribs of the Archinto were cut down.

Beautiful instrument!

Chris

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Hello, interesting video and excellent photos thanks.

I'm not an Archinto sound fan, but it does look very nice. Often taken photos of it when I visit London, and handled it when Newark visited many years ago.

Because of Archinto's value and position in the Academy collection, I suspect it's very good publicity for Phil Dukes, who used to play an Iizuka model viola....20 years ago. Not sure if he still does.

I have the Archinto drawings and form, I've made violas from that pattern but feel the middle bouts are too narrow to make a 'proper' viola sound. Also don't like the very long lower corners which are not player friendly.

Agree totally with sentiments abouve about Primrose and his sound, unsurpassed.

Here are some photos from the Academy collection :

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funny, the Mahler strikes me as being closer in form to the Amati and Guarneri contralto violas.

Chris

Given the sound recording quality was not great once you made the adjustment, I thought it came up quite favorably, but there you go.....

Yes, strange how things strike you, different features - I thought the opposite - that the Archinto looked more Amatese.....

But I see what you mean about Andrea Guarneri.

Not much time between them chronologically either.

776ga.jpg

My favourite (from appearance standpoint) is the Gibson.

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Ben thanks for your insight and the photos. To your point here is a podcast featuring Dukes talking about his Iizuka, the Archinto and the differences between them. I kind of like the sound of the archinto -- the evenness across the strings and the refined smooth sound is appealing. I've only heard it on recordings though. The corners are indeed quite long on the Archinto -- how is this player unfriendly? Is it do to the bow possibly striking the corners?

Omobono, i like the Gibson as well. It is amazing how so much variation was achieved from a single set of working templates.

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U.L. - Thanks for that link to Dukes Iizuka & Archinto, very interesting, good player.

You couldn't find two more different instruments, I played Duke's Iizuka right in front of him, and remember it as being huge sounding.

By contrast I tend to think the Archinto type pattern can have lovely silvery A string but a less than beefy C.

You notice that his comparison excerpt is all middle register, I think a 4 octave scale would tell us more.

'' The corners are indeed quite long on the Archinto -- how is this player unfriendly? ''

- Yup, mostly the right thumb hitting the corner, you can adjust and get used to it, but for playing ease I think the Magginni 1610 ex-coates has the best shape corners. The normal Iizuka model also has almost no corners but it's VERY wide.

As for the scroll of the Archinto, I don't think scrolls have any tonal effect whatsoever on the instrument, and it's a gorgeous perfectly cut scroll. Maculine lines and generous width at the eyes.

Cheers.

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Hello, interesting video and excellent photos thanks.

I'm not an Archinto sound fan, but it does look very nice. Often taken photos of it when I visit London, and handled it when Newark visited many years ago.

Because of Archinto's value and position in the Academy collection, I suspect it's very good publicity for Phil Dukes, who used to play an Iizuka model viola....20 years ago. Not sure if he still does.

I have the Archinto drawings and form, I've made violas from that pattern but feel the middle bouts are too narrow to make a 'proper' viola sound. Also don't like the very long lower corners which are not player friendly.

Agree totally with sentiments abouve about Primrose and his sound, unsurpassed.

Here are some photos from the Academy collection :

Hello Ben,

Could you please tell me who is the maker of 5-string cello pictured toward the end of your flickr set?

Thanks,

Weller

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The Archinto Strad can be heard on recordings made by the Lindsay Quartet from an undefined date in my knowledge up to about 1985 in the hands of Roger Bigley along side the 1918 Maurin Strad that is also in the Royal Academy collection and features in at least one of Ben's great photos (above) alongside a very nice early long pattern Strad from 1694 and a Ruggeri Cello of the same year.

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Given the sound recording quality was not great once you made the adjustment, I thought it came up quite favorably, but there you go.....

Yes, strange how things strike you, different features - I thought the opposite - that the Archinto looked more Amatese.....

But I see what you mean about Andrea Guarneri.

Not much time between them chronologically either.

776ga.jpg

My favourite (from appearance standpoint) is the Gibson.

A lot is revealed about Stradivari when he attempts up scaling...The Amati seem to have a formula....Strad is winging it and we see this on the nasty modern looking Archinto scroll.

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The five string is a brothers Amati, and not cut down whatsoever, although I don't think that there are any others of this particular proportions that are known. Its not a million miles from the brothers Amati viols that survive in the Ashmolean and Smithsonian museums. The head isn't brothers Amati, but equally interesting - its a Nicolo Amati from around the 1680s: Not completely unique either - the 1684 General Kyd by Stradivari was also originally for five strings, and matches the paper templates in the Stradivari museum in Cremona.

As for the Archinto - that model certainly inspires a lot of French violas from the nineteenth-century. Generally speaking things of that model sound like "big violins". It doesn't prevent them from having a beautiful sound, but they don't necessarily have the right sound to convey the composer's intentions in a string-quartet, which is why they can be both beautiful and useless at the same time!

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A lot is revealed about Stradivari when he attempts up scaling...The Amati seem to have a formula....Strad is winging it and we see this on the nasty modern looking Archinto scroll.

I'm interested in that comment, Melvin. Why would that be so when he apparently managed most tasks so well?

Here are the Tuscan (Medici) 1704 & the Gibson (1734)

Anyone got pics of the McDonald which is also an early viola, I think, and quite small (don't know if it was cut or not)?

767676c.jpg

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The five string is a brothers Amati, and not cut down whatsoever, although I don't think that there are any others of this particular proportions that are known. Its not a million miles from the brothers Amati viols that survive in the Ashmolean and Smithsonian museums. The head isn't brothers Amati, but equally interesting - its a Nicolo Amati from around the 1680s: Not completely unique either - the 1684 General Kyd by Stradivari was also originally for five strings, and matches the paper templates in the Stradivari museum in Cremona.

As for the Archinto - that model certainly inspires a lot of French violas from the nineteenth-century. Generally speaking things of that model sound like "big violins". It doesn't prevent them from having a beautiful sound, but they don't necessarily have the right sound to convey the composer's intentions in a string-quartet, which is why they can be both beautiful and useless at the same time!

Great info there Ben H, thanks very much.

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