Gand is one of the great names in French lutherie, and the family was active from the late 18th century until the demise of Gand & Berardel in 1901. Gand Père was the best maker of the dynasty, and this is a spectacular example, aesthetically and tonally.
Charles François Gand is the best known of Lupot’s apprentices, and while his violins depart radically in construction from those of his master, tonally they attain similar dizzying heights, putting pretty much all Vuillaumes to shame. Gand is best known for his 3-piece fronts, and for the extraordinary perfection of his woodwork. This is a great example, all the more special for being relatively undamaged – it looks very much as it would have looked after a year or two’s use.
The original varnish is in an amazing state of preservation, with a unique cherry-red over gold that seems way ahead of its time. There are no cracks or repairs whatsoever, and this must be one of the best surviving examples of this maker’s work.
However, all that doesn’t amout to a hill of beans unless the thing plays, and happily this violin is also a superb concert instrument. It’s very muscular, capable of putting out a lot of volume, slightly dark but with a great edge – it’s clear, focused, just the right mix of pliant and resistant, and it has a very wide palette of possible sounds. It would handle the big concertos without buckling, but it also has the beauty and refinement for more intimate performance. The truth is that it’s not such an easy violin to write about – it does everything well and all parts of the register are excellent. It’s a very successful interpretation or development of the Stradivari model which would stand up well to the original in a blind shoot-out – ultimately it just leaves me wondering why other makers fall so far short of this …
Dimensions: length of back 35.8cm, stop 127/195cm
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