Here is another “campfire Strad” – a great sounding but affordable violin – this one’s from Mittenwald, late 18th or early 19th century.
People often ask me to explain how violins are priced. My favourite hypothesis is that it’s to do with degrees of separation from Stradivari, though another joke response is that it depends on the number of syllables in the maker’s name and which vowel it ends with…
All of this as a way to explain that many superlative sounding violins fall through the net because they just don’t have the right credentials.
The violin-makers of Mittenwald are a case in point – many didn’t even bother to sign or label their instruments although they were sophisticated professional makers with access to great materials.
This particular violin dates from the turn of the 18th/19th centuries, perhaps a bit later given that it appears to be a Stradivari model. It’s a very attractive instrument with a rich red varnish, typically craquelled and blackened.
The condition is generally good – there’s a well patched soundpost crack to the table, a wing crack to the bass f-hole and a very small saddle crack. There’s some edge wear here and there are plenty of signs of use, but there are no other significant issues.
We’re always excited to come across a violin that could hold its own on a concert stage but which doesn’t require you to mortgage your granny – there are a surprising number of such instruments out there if you keep an open mind!
This is a lightly built violin with a terrific sound, bright, full and solistic – in fact there are far too many 6-figure Italian violins out there which don’t sound this good…
It’s clear and focused but with lots of harmonic complexity – it responds to different bow strokes with variety and nuance, making it expressive and lyrical.
It would be ideal for an aspiring young soloist, it works with all repertoires, and it will bring out the best in any player.