This is a very characteristic Mittenwald small viola with a one-piece front taken from one of those immense Alpine spruce trees. It’s in near-perfect condition with no cracks or damages, and very little wear to the edges or the varnish. The work is very tidy and precise, everything is well-executed and oozes confidence – it’s a pleasure to see something of this quality in such a pristine state. More details
This is a very attractive early 19th century viola bearing an apocryphal Gagliano label. In style of construction it comes closest to Prague instruments of the period, but it seems destined to remain forever “anonymous”. The size is typical of Austro-Hungarian work – overall the workmanship is excellent, as are the materials and the varnish. There are a couple of invisible and highly professional crack repairs to the table, including a soundpost patch. More details
This is a very well made Mittenwald small viola from the mid-late 19th century – typically the front, back and ribs are all one-piece in construction. The tidy inner work reveals the use of an inside mould, and in all respects this is a finely executed instrument with dramatic varnish, elegant Guarneri-inspired f-holes, and discreet antiquing. More details
Here is a superb example of the work of Charles Francois Langonet – Langonet trained in Mirecourt, but came to fame as foreman of the Hills shop, and was the primary talent in their violin-making activities. Instruments bearing his own label are pretty rare – there’s a fine appreciation of him in this article from The Strad’s archives.
There’s nothing to distinguish this 1924 viola from a great Hill of the early 20th century. More details
This is an outstanding 18th century Italian viola by Paolo Castello. Castello attracts quite a varied response from connoisseurs and antiquarians, mainly on account of his idiosyncratic scrolls, but I’m a big fan. Every instrument of his that I’ve played has sounded good, and most are outstanding. This viola is a fine example of his work, very similar to the one featured in Alberto Giordano’s seminal article in the Strad. More details
Although most of our prejudices about instruments filter down from the current orchestral fashions, there are many situations in which a large soundbox is of no particular benefit, and where a big viola just proves unwieldy. Klezmer, traditional and gypsy musicians tend to favour small instruments, as do classical musicians who are answerable only to themselves! More details