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Dwight Brown

Modern Violas Based on The Stradivari CV form

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Conveinently Our own Luis Manfio just saw the Mahler viola in his home city.  The present player let him examine it,  The back and ribs are poplar.  The head sure looks like poplar grafted to a maple neck (as you would expect).  The peg box shows several cracks as I look at it on Cozio.

 

dlb

 

 

41367_c251_treb.jpg

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Sorry the silly thing got so big!  It was not like this on Cozio!  I am not even sure you guys can see it.  If it is a problem please delete it.

 

 

dlb

 

 

I am sure Luis will chime in here.

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Conveinently Our own Luis Manfio just saw the Mahler viola in his home city.  The present player let him examine it,  The back and ribs are poplar.  The head sure looks like poplar grafted to a maple neck (as you would expect).  The peg ox shows several cracks as I look at it on Cozio.

 

dlb

 

 

41367_c251_treb.jpg

 

 

Attached jpg. picture cannot be open in my pc.

 

If we said poplar, it means which species? Popolus Nigra? Because the ribs on this viola has signs of radial cells which are not so distinctive on popolus nigra wood. And such clear carved scrool with this material is also very difficult.

 

:D  excuse me, but I have small problem with understanding of Your American English :(

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I invented the Peg Ox too!  My typing is pretty rough at best :-)  I am not sure of the rib wood and I don't know how to get the picture to post, I'm lousy at it.  I pay for access to the Cozio Archive , very much worth it.  I don't think I can share pictures from there.  In the Hill book on Stradivari they mention it has a back and sides of poplar, but they make no mention of the head wood. (Page 96 "Antonio Stradivari His Life and Work)  Interestingly that say that at the time of their examination it had it's original neck.  It has a graft now.  I can't imagine neck made of poplar, but I am far from an expert.

 

http://www.cello.org/heaven/hill/three.htm

 

 

DLB

 

You are quite correct about my American English, I write like real scatter brain!

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Two years later I can give you my opinión as a player. 

I comissioned and played for 7 years a modern Stradivari model viola, the instrument is a copy on the Archinto viola with a Niccolo Amati model scroll.

The reason I comisioned this violas was that at the time I was playing a 1972 Horacio Pineiro viola, Andrea Amati model, 16.5 inches and I wanted a more responsive instrument. The Pineiro viola succeeded on producing a good viola tone but bowingwise it was a bit slow responding and heavy sounding, that plus long orchestra seasons got me into thinking about going for a diferent viola model.

I comissioned the strad model viola, moved by the amazing rendition Maxim Vengerov made of the Walton concierto playing on the RAM Archinto Stradivari. 

We decided to make a violin like head, no shoulders as the original model, and the maker choose a Niccolo Amati scroll. Best material were used for the construction and a golden oil varnish covered the instrument.

After a long wait I recieved the new viola and it was quite a change, totally different sound, cannot say better or worse, just different. 

I played on this instrument non stop for seven years mostly on the orchestra seasons but also in chamber music and eventually in solo performances.

So, I would say the model is really good for playing in the orchestra, you can hear yourself clearly, is not really loud but clear and focused sound, also playability is better since is not a heavy sounding instrument, bowling comes out easy.

In chamber music or small groups I feel the instrument is wanting something, specially if you play second viola. It can sound a bit trebly.

I think the best used for this particular viola is to play solo.

in the end I came back to play an Amati viola model, got a modern Cremona brothers Amati model, mainly because I started missing the fuller tone I had with the Piñeiro, still the Strad model is a keeper, right now on loan to a university student. 

 

 

Edited by JavierPortero
Rephrasing

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On 8/1/2015 at 9:57 AM, Dwight Brown said:

How do modern violas based on the Stradivari CV form work out.  ...  I have heard of widening a bit from the middle and perhaps other alterations.

Interesting that this old-ish thread got re-activated just after I developed a design for my next viola based on the CV form.

I use "based" loosely, as in the Davy Crockett hachet story... widened in the middle, shortened to ~400mm, diddled with upper and lower bout sizes, and grafted on completely different F holes, somewhere between GdG and daSalo looking.  Of course, I'm a long way from actually making it, and I might change my mind... so I won't post any sketches now.  But I'll definitely post photos in about a year when it's done (intended for VSA entry).

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I would love to see ideas as to what a GDG viola would have looked like.  Right now Josh Beyer is working on a corner less viola based on the Stradivari Chanot-Chardon ex Bell.  (I know it's one of my odd obsessions !)  

I really am of the opinion that the middle bout is the engine that drives a viola.  My Dilworth Linarol model viola has tons of power at just 405mm.  Good to see this Lazarus/Zombie thread has come back.

 

DLB

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32 minutes ago, Urban Luthier said:

The Macdonald seemed to work just fine for Peter Schidlof. 

 

Absolutely! Regretfully I think there are only two Stradivari violas used regularly,  the Mahler and the one in Japan played by the violist of the Tokio Quartet... maybe the Gibson is being played also.

 

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I have three modern violas, one of which is by Michael Darnton.  It is an enlarged copy of the 1670 Tullaye  Stradivari violin and is identical to that in  "Making a Viola" on his website.  It has very good sound in the lower range but in the upper (D and A strings) it is really outstanding.  At 16 inches, it is also very comfortable to play.  Recently, one of my students performed the Mozart Kegelstatt trio and had trouble balancing the piano and clarinet so I loaned her the Darnton which solved the balance problem.

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R0012709x800.thumb.JPG.1a0bafea5af8d3f412e06759af21ae87.JPG

This is a viola based on the CV form I made this year. I kept the original's dimensions, and also the shoulder of the scroll, but it worked out well sound wise. The tone was more focused than my Guarneri based model.
 

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Since non-CV form violas are coming up, Sean Bishop spoke very highly of two violas he was selling by Alessandro Tossani, of Cremona, who seems to be a bit less well known. Tossani started making violas based on the Mahler, at 413mm with poplar backs, but has migrated to 420mm and maple backs. I gather that he doesn't make many, and one supposes is busy with the "CremonaTools" business. As far as I know, that is the only model and size of viola he makes, and he feels satisfied with it. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to try one.

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So, here a recording I made on a modern viola copy of the Archinto Stradivari made in 2010 by Martin Gorostiaga in Buenos Aires. The instrument was used extensively since it was fresh from the maker, shows lots of wear now, the oil varnish cracked quite a bit. I agree the sound is not as expansive as the modern Amati copy I have made in Cremona but the Stradivari model is SO easy to play, even across the scale and also exquisite design.

 

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I'm very lucky to have a Strad model viola by Michael Darnton.  It is based on the Tullaye violin and is identical to the viola on Michael's "Making a Viola" photo essay.  It's a very fine instrument.

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18 hours ago, JavierPortero said:

Nice instrument Stephen

Thanks.  I found it for her, just walking around Cremona while on vacation.  Tossani's shop is lovely, I walked in and mentioned either that I was shopping for myself or for my student and was told that he didn't have any violas in at the moment.  But after I tried a couple violins, a viola appeared.

A month later she was in the neighborhood for a chamber music festival, he gave it to her to try on trial, and she's been playing it happily ever since... 4 or 5 years now.  Time flies.

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On 8/7/2015 at 3:18 PM, MANFIO said:

Antoine Tamestit is playing Harold in Italy here with our State Orchestra so I had the oportunity to meet him for some viola test drive, and see and listen to the "Mahler" Strad viola.

 

He produces a beautifull sound on it. The instrument is in mint condition with lots of coloured varnish. As mentioned by the Hills the head is not in proportion to the body, being oversized.

In a 2018 recording on youtube

he seems to play a modern viola. WIkipedia says he owns a Vatelot. Or is this the Mahler Strad you are talking about?

Here he shows the Strad and it looks different.

 

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All the times I saw he playing was with the Mahler Strad. I think the videos were recorded with the Mahler. Quite a nice man, player and viola test driver.

 

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