We always try to keep a few Sartory bows in our stock – his bows are the first choice for many professional players. This example is more refined than most, a great middle period bow in very good condition and with unusually good playing qualities.
Eugène Sartory is probably the best knows of all French bow-makers. In a sense he was the Vuillaume of the bow – he ran a busy and successful workshop for many decades, he knew how to court musicians, he produced exquisite exhibition examples of his work, and he had a flair for business.
The Sartory model is something of an enigma – Sartory worked for Lamy for some time, but his approach seems more like an evolution of Vigneron’s style, and there’s strong reason for believing that the two had some relationship.
This example is unusually delicate for a middle period Sartory – by this time most of the bows are hefty affairs, often over 63 grams, and with quite a substantial cross-section to the stick. This example seems to hark back to the early (best) period, and the head is particularly graceful.
The stick is of round section orange-brown pernambuco with a pronounced figure – mounts are silver and ebony.
The condition is very good – there’s a very small repair to the ebony of the frog where it meets the underslide at the back of the player’s side, and there’s a paper bushing forward of the frog mortise. There are some minor abrasions to the stick but otherwise no issues.
Sartory bows are hugely popular, but most are a bit Mercedes-like – nice to look at, built to last, but … heavy. This example is much more sprightly – maybe not a Ferrari but at least a Lancia! it’s a very agile stick with lots of grip and a fine solistic tone – well balanced, supple yet strong, with a bright, airy character. It has more the qualities I would expect of a fine Voirin than of a Sartory, a luminous sound, great off the string pazazz, and a certain “class” or sophistication.
It has a great dynamic range, and while I wouldn’t recommend it for a Shostakovich-only programme, it would be great for anyone who needs subtlety as well as power. It can be strident, the sound projects very well, but it can also whisper…
An ideal bow for an orchestral professional, and for my money the best kind of Sartory!
Dimensions: length 74.6cm, weight 59 grams
Certificate: Cabinet d’Archetiers JF Raffin, Paris 2020
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