Angelo Soliani violins are quite rare, and they are highly prized for their quality of tone. He seems to have been heavily influenced by Guadagnini, and the arching and varnish are very similar. This example is far from pristine, but it’s a great sounding instrument in good restored condition.
This is one of our “Dolly Partons” – it’s had a lot of work but it’s still singing sweetly! It’s also one of those violins which catches the eye before you’ve even taken it out of its case – the smoky red-orange varnish is just so reminiscent of Guadagnini. It’s a very flat-arched model with slightly extended lower bouts – the edgework also very flat. The wood is just my favourite kind of wood – quite a broad even grain in the table, subtle upward flame in the maple. It’s hard not to love the look of this violin … it still retains its original label, as well as the famous Soliani “sun” brand in the centre back.
The condition is poor, but all damages are well restored and the violin is sound – the work was bought from Beares, though at some point the violin was also sold by Hills (Hill number 7945). The most obvious restoration is to the worm damage in the back – there are at least seven circular inserts as well as various other filled wormholes. Hard to know whether this was in the wood at the time of making – but it doesn’t present any current concern, and actually the repairs are rather beautiful. There are two repaired cracks on the left of the back, one almost full length, the other much shorter. The ribs and scroll seem pretty clean. The table is also heavily restored, with various well-repaired cracks, though surprisingly not on the post or the bassbar.
The varnish has been carefully preserved, and the necessary retouching has been done with skill.
A full and exhaustive condition report is available on request.
This violin belonged to my uncle Peter Adams, a fine and dedicated amateur violinist and lover of beautiful things. He wasn’t wealthy, and the only way he could own a superb sounding Italian violin was to put up with some condition issues.
And it has a big sound – it’s unusually refined for such a flat arch, but it really puts out the volume. You would be hard pressed to make this violin sound harsh or pokey – it has lots of the right stuff and none of the wrong stuff. Lovely dark and chocolatey lower register, sprightly and articluate midrange, and an opulent and beautifully clear high register.
Although the neck is slim and the violin doesn’t feel big, it would be best suited to a taller player.
It’s a real violin, and if you’re looking for a quality of sound that you just can’t afford, it might be the answer to your prayers.
Certificate: Florian Leonhard, London 2018 (pro forma)
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