This viola is one of the finest examples of the work of Charles Brugère in existence. The condition is near mint and the sound is warm and responsive.
Charles Brugère was already a very experienced maker before he set up his own workshop in 1895 – he had worked in turn for Blanchard, Paul Bailly, Gand & Bernardel and Eugène Henry. So this viola although numbered no. 17 is the work of a seasoned and accomplished maker.
It’s a beautiful instrument in the high Parisian style, super-crisp in all details, made with the finest materials and finished with a very attractive varnish. As with so many Paris makers who achieved success, Brugère put his label in quite a wide range of objects, but this viola is a pure example of his own personal work, and should not be compared to his later workshop productions.
The condition is outstanding – there are no defects and no repairs, and there’s very little wear to the varnish or the edges.
The size of this instrument is very much the standard for French makers of the period, and after a lengthy phase in which European orchestras have favoured gargantuan violas guaranteed to cause spinal trauma, we are fortunately returning to an appreciation of the qualities of these smaller instruments – they are just so easy to play!
This viola has a very quick and lively response, excellent volume and projection, and a warm core to the sound. Smaller instruments tend to be more solistic, with a more rapid pickup and cleaner articulation than a larger instrument. If you’re looking to fill out the lower register of a German symphony orchestra then this won’t be the right instrument for you, but if you spend most of your time flying around on strings other than the C you will find this viola to be very classy, assertive but full of complexity.
All in all, a uniquely well preserved example of this maker’s best work, with a lively and winning sound.