Francesco Maurizi is a relatively obscure maker from the Marche region of central Italy. His violins are much admired for their quality of sound, though the construction can be quite hurried. This viola is a great example, with an unusually deep and noble sound for its size.
We are selling this viola as “probably Francesco Maurizi” for the simple reason that there are no reference examples of other violas by this maker. In his letter of attribution, Florian Leonhard (the most respected expert in central Italian makers) is rightly cautious, but in fact he believes the instrument to be the work of Maurizi. The varnish, f-holes, edgework and materials correspond exactly with known violins by this maker.
The instrument is in very good restored condition. There are a few cracks to the table, though repaired to a very high standard – post and lower bassbar cracks to the table along with a crack to the right of the fingerboard. There’s some worm in the ribs and the lower right back, though possibly original to the wood at the time of making. There are also a few well repaired rib cracks and one in the upper right back, but the varnish is beautifully preserved and the overall appearance is excellent.
This is just a great player’s instrument. All the features of the construction are what you would look for in a smaller viola – generous arching, deep ribs, a broad model, open f-holes and a nice wide-grained front. The resulting tone is very full with a lot of complexity, soft when it needs to be but with great bite close to the bridge. Very nice sustain giving a beautiful halo to the sound and a wide dynamic range – essentially subtle and mellow but with a lot of power in reserve.
It’s also quite a looker, in particular the oppio back with its subtle upward flame.
Maurizi violins are currently priced around $90-110k (Neuetaxe 2018), so this is really a bargain price.