Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Can you get any good Italian Cello for $100K USD???


twcellist
 Share

Recommended Posts

I don't mean to cause a stir, but I suspect this topic could generate a lot of discussion.

I recently tried to bid on a 1924 Garimberti cello at Ingles and Hayday. Their initial estimate was 60K-80K British Pounds (after commission equivalent to around $93K -$125K USD) I had to fortune to see and play the cello. It was beautiful sounding cello in pristine condition and had two certs. The latest cert was from Eric Blot stating that the cello was a Garimberti because the label said Guiseppe Pedrazzini. (On a side note I got to play a Guaneri Filius Andrea that they were selling for $2.2 USD :P). Anyhow, I had a suspicion that the cello would go over the asking and sure enough it sold at 95K (roughly $150K.)

So, naturally this begs the question is it even possible to get a nice good condition Italian cello for under $100K USD? When I came back I looked online and Reuning has a Arturo Fracassi that 1958 and they want $175K USD! I don't know how to describe how I feel right now. It's a mixture of fascinated (just interesting to see the prices:rolleyes:) , flabbergasted (can't believe the prices :wacko:), and frustrated (because I didn't win the auction AND I feel that any good Italian Cello is basically unattainable to most people :(.)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If Italian is important then I'm sure there are some contemporary makers well under that price. Of course people worry that many of the Cremona makers weren't actually born there, which somehow makes a difference.

How about members of the Carletti family? A far amount of variability there, I've seen some duds, but the ones that are good are often fine players (I have had more experience with violas)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The obsession with Italian instruments is a curious one.

Makers of Garimberti's generation are a very mixed bag, and generally an instrument by a Prague maker of the same period will be as good or better ...

If you must have an Italian cello then there are some early 20th century makers whose instruments will sell for under $100k. Whether these instruments are worth having is another matter - given the huge price hike that's imposed on anything Italian, I would doubt it. I would look for makers who are outside of the geographical mainstream, maybe someone like Giovanni Cavani. 

Tone-wise you would be far better off with a nice KB Dvorak or Frantisek Spidlen, or even a late 19th century Collin-Mézin. These were real professional makers rather than the hapless bodgers who make up the majority of "affordable" Italian VMs.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There were any number of Italians who immigrated to Argentina and made instruments there. Some of them were/are apparently pretty nice. If having a 'cello with a name that (legitimately) ends with a vowel is a fixed ambition, I'd be contacting people in Buenos Aires. You'd likely encounter the same snake pit of fraud & misrepresentation there as here, with the added difficulty of reliable information being harder to come by (less research/publication), but if I had that ambition and were feeling lucky, those are the waters I'd be fishing in.

FWIW (if anything).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

13 hours ago, twcellist said:

So, naturally this begs the question is it even possible to get a nice good condition Italian cello for under $100K USD?

[Looks fondly at her $150 Chinese cello, as well as the $250 resurrected Saxon cello next to it, both of which when played sound pretty much like........good cellos.]  :lol:

Have you considered cultivating a more economical obsession?  :huh::ph34r:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/25/2019 at 9:13 PM, WartimeConsigliere said:

I’ve played that Fracassi and found it underwhelming. Just my opinion. 

You have a healthy budget. Take your time and cast a wide net. You need to remember that price and sound quality don’t correlate, at least not in this price range. Don’t get hung up on Italian instruments per se. I think Mr Swan is spot on to suggest 19/20th cent French. 

Thanks for your feedback and your opinion about the Fracassi cello. :)

So I'm glad you mentioned 19th/20th century French because during my trip in London I also stopped at Tom Woods Cello shop and met with Tom himself. He was extremely gracious with his time and we got into a discussion how he would travel the world (consulting for clients) and play so many underwhelming Italian celli and then he would play a bunch of old French celli and he would be taken back by the sound. He then said if you can't afford the Italian celli (which I mean a majority of people can't) it's not bad a thing to look at some nice French cellos. He then showed me a very nice pristine 1926 Albert Caressa French cello and it really did have this nice refined mellow and warm almost old soul quality. He was asking $50K British pounds and well in the grand scheme of things if you're going on sound quality it definitely is a bargain.

Anyhow, I guess my overall feeling is it's just sad how Italian celli have gotten so over-hyped with the prices. :mellow: I mean I'm just a hobby cellist so I can't say I'm totally deserving of one of these instruments from a player's perspective, but just think how hard it must be for a gift and deserving musician to buy one on his/her own will. :wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, twcellist said:

 

 :mellow: I mean I'm just a hobby cellist so I can't say I'm totally deserving of one of these instruments from a player's perspective, but just think how hard it must be for a gift and deserving musician to buy one on his/her own will. :wacko:

You are still suffering from the delusion that these instruments are better. They are expensive because they are made in Italy, not because they are better. A professional cellist with an open mind can (and generally does) get a great sounding French, English, German or Bohemian cello.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, martin swan said:

You are still suffering from the delusion that these instruments are better. They are expensive because they are made in Italy, not because they are better. A professional cellist with an open mind can (and generally does) get a great sounding French, English, German or Bohemian cello.

 

I agree. There are many contemporary makers producing fantastic celli too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know anything about the OP.  I'm betting that he/she is a decent cellist.  If he/she wants an Italian cello, albeit I personally look for sound above country of origin, that's his/her choice.  

I agree that country of origin can be overrated and somewhat unreasonable as a first level category for purchasing an instrument.

Having said all of that, twcellist, if you want a fine Italian cello, another way to go about it, and it might not cost as much, is to practice, practice, practice, market yourself, become famous, and have someone sponsor you or loan you one.  Just sayin'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/25/2019 at 10:25 AM, twcellist said:

I don't mean to cause a stir, but I suspect this topic could generate a lot of discussion.

 ( ... )

 

On 10/28/2019 at 6:03 AM, martin swan said:

 ( ... )

We really should be over this by now.

Professionals... Their suggestions and expertise should be respected. 

Bohemian instruments can be a bargain. But the player needs to know what they want and possibly their professional or amateur role. If one plays in an opera or more traditional orchestral sections, the richness and the forgiving quality of a good Bohemian instrument is an asset, as well as in a Tuesday night string quartet. I am pretty sure that most great orchestras have them sprinkled throughout. It is more about attaining good blend ( richness, ) pulse ( articulation ) and sure-footed-ness ( feel ) at this price point. One acquaintance of a fine Bohemian cello remarked that playing the cello is not playing the french horn and all he wanted was something that output predictable sound. But if one has a precocious soloist within them, this may not be ideal quality. Strangely, their Sartorys cost substantially more than their cellos.

But one should learn to recognize quality workmanship and repairs before buying at an auction. A professionally played example should be a good start if it has been traded-in. And if you are curious, generally, Hungarian violins are very interesting but I like Bohemian cellos better than most Hungarian counterparts. I found spit pooling in my mouth, nearly drooling, while playing an unlabeled Bohemian Viola. That sounds gross, but it was a sonically stunning instrument and played so smoothly... would have purchased it but they were asking way too much. Also would have driven to SLC for a lesson with Joseph Suk, if the price had been considerably lower. The back was slab cut and an original, nicely-shaped but roughly cut scroll. But this was the best of many many Bohemian instruments ( violas ) that had been played. So was it better than my current American instrument? Possibly... but what i played then and play now, the newer instruments is the right way to go ( or at least the most practical. )

On that Bohemian Viola a mentor cynically commented about my purchasing it, "... and play Bartok on it?"

Not that there's anything wrong with playing Bartok...

Garimbertis, or other name makers, are well worth visiting but once one sees a great example, it is difficult to imagine a range of their work. They might not all be great. I am frequently surprised how different instruments from the same maker can sound after 20 years of playing or storage. Also, just because someone does not like a particular instrument, their's is not the last word. But, It might be a good indicator as to how it might do in a re-sale, so worth making note. 

There are great instruments at way lower pricepoints, or there are excellent instruments that can be paired to worthy players at much lowerprice point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/25/2019 at 6:25 PM, twcellist said:

So, naturally this begs the question is it even possible to get a nice good condition Italian cello for under $100K USD?

 

It is yes, but it depends really on what you want. From reading some of your other postings, I'm not sure you know much about makers yet, or values in the market, but please forgive me if that is an incorrect assumption.

The reputation of the maker, and age of the instrument is going to be a huge factor in your search. If you will consider contemporary instruments, then certainly you can get an excellent cello, have enough left over for a nice French bow, carbon case, and a lot of change to save for another day.
I would put a caveat on this, don't just go for a contemporary maker known mainly for violins, really you need to find a maker known for their cellos.

With the antique market, things are going to get difficult quickly. Any good Italian with some age behind it is going to command a premium, particularly if the condition is good and it has some provenance. Here, 100k will not go too far and will probably rule out most of the late 19thC and early 20thC popular makers, unless the condition is poor.

I'm sure this will get me a lot of flak, but Italian instruments are not necessarily the best by any means, though for musicians they seem to be the most desirable on account of status, rather than any magical tonal properties. Bad or distinctly average instruments have been made everywhere, Italy included.

If you can bring yourself to look at the work of other countries, then you will find 100k can go very much further in the antique market. A lot of the best old English cellos will be obtainable, as will some late 19thC Paris makers. A lot of fine cellos were made in Germany, Austria, Prague...  America too, although later.

If you are prepared to be flexible, put the work in to travel round, and try instruments with an open mind, then certainly you can get something. If it can only be Italian, it is still possible, but perhaps with some compromises and a much longer search.
 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The one in NYC right? I did actually get to stop at NYC and did stop by and did try the Testore school cello. For the age condition wasn't too bad and sound wise pretty good. The only one criticism I had was that the lower part of the scroll's back was unfinished and not carved (i.e. it was flat) I understand that Testore himself had some scrolls that had the unfinished look, but ultimately I wasn't a huge fan of that. 

Some other comments/observations from Tarisio NYC for their November auction... There was a a composite Testore (i.e. head not Testore and front not original) that had great sound, but I figured with all those different parts the cello basically almost as no semblance to Testore so I passed on that. It currently has no bids so I figure everyone has the same feelings that I do about it being far too gone from a Testore. The Eugenio Degani was nice, but it was not in perfect condition like the Garimberti cello at Ingles and the sound was not as good. That cello immediately had bids the second (and literally the second because I tried to bid) the auction opened. Lastly, the Gagliano was the most expensive cello, but it was very underwhelming. Condition was very average and sound not impressive at all. I can see why that cello so far has no bids.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can see wanting a specific country of origin, or historical importance, if  one is a collector focused on investment potential as opposed to just looking for an instrument that one enjoys playing.

But if you're just looking for the best-playing cello, I'd totally ignore origin. Did you try any of the cellos at the recent Reed-Yeboah exhibition?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/28/2019 at 5:44 AM, martin swan said:

You are still suffering from the delusion that these instruments are better. They are expensive because they are made in Italy, not because they are better. A professional cellist with an open mind can (and generally does) get a great sounding French, English, German or Bohemian cello.

 

I try to encourage people to think outside the violin-industry box when contemplating this stuff.  Pull "violin" out of the phrase, and substitute "wine", olive oil", "spaghetti sauce", "shoes", "pasta", etc., then get busy on Google and investigate the conditions under which your favorite product is actually manufactured, and who owns what giant corporation that does it.   Oh, and on food products, be sure and read all the ingredients.  Now, explain to me how a package of tortellini labelled "Italy", but made entirely of imported ingredients, on imported machinery, by immigrant labor, and marketed by a conglomerate based in a tropical tax haven is inherently superior to a similar product made anywhere else, and why you really think that string instruments are immune to such considerations.  :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...