This is a tremendous violin by the Hungarian-born maker Mathias Heinicke. Heinicke always claimed to have trained under Eugenio Degani, though this hasn’t been verified as far as I know. But whatever the truth of it, his violins show an unusual refinement and individuality, and are generally very successful tonally. It’s important to point out that there are a lot of fake Heinickes out there … fortunately authentic examples are easy to spot by such features as the distinctive lower f-hole tongues, the slim thumb projection at the back of the scroll, the rather discreet pins in the back, and of course the brand on the inner back and the second label on the top block. However, in the case of this violin such things are hardly necessary since we also have the original sales receipt from Heinicke himself, plus a couple of letters sent by him to the first purchaser of the violin!
The condition is excellent – no cracks or damages whatsoever, just a bit of the usual craquelure starting on the fine oil varnish. The build quality is outstanding, inside and out, and the wood is first class.
I don’t normally go over the top about violins, but this one is really in a league of its own. It has a superb soloist sound, refined, crystal clear, bright and focused but with a beautiful woody lower register. There are no weaknesses in the sound, and it’s rare to find such a powerful instrument which is also responsive, full of nuance, and easy on the ear. It’s a source of infinite mystery why some violins can be so good while others of equal build quality can be so bad – perhaps it’s down to the materials, perhaps a happy conjunction of wood density and thicknessing. If anyone had really worked it out, all their violins would sound like this one!
Length of back 35.9cm, stop 130/195mm, total length 58.9cm
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