This is a very fine violin from one of the leading Italian makers of the 20th century. It’s in very good condition and has an exceptional sound.

The Turin maker Annibale Fagnola is principally known as a copyist of Pressenda, but he also made Guadagnini and Rocca copies. Here we have a Rocca model from 1921 bearing labels for Fagnola and Rocca, and stamped internally GR.

This is an unusually beautiful Fagnola, with a deep golden-orange varnish, beautiful wood choice, and a soft and generous touch in the detail which somehow marks it out from his regular production. The condition is generally excellent – there are two neatly repaired cracks on the table around the treble f-hole but no other cracks or damages. The neck has been grafted and the peg-holes bushed. A condition report is attached at the bottom of the listing.

Although Fagnola is one of the most popular of 20th century makers, I can’t pretend to have always been a fan. But this violin blew me away completely – it’s the best sounding 20th century Italian violin we have had to offer, and by quite a long way.

It seems to combine all the qualities we look for in a violin, power, sweetness of tone, malleability, detail, even seemingly contradictory qualities such as complexity and clarity.

It stands out because it’s so well balanced – none of its attributes are dominant, everything is harmonious and in the right place. Each note speaks cleanly and deliberately, and every gesture or subtle change of bow pressure is picked up and rendered into music.

This is a serious concert violin for a leading player, but it’s also friendly enough to respond to any level of technique. You don’t need to bust a gut to get a fabulous sound out of it, but if you play hard it will too!

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