FW Chanot belongs to a distinguished line of violin-makers and experts. This violin is a beautifully preserved del Gesu copy with a powerful and supremely well balanced tone.
Although the Chanot family commanded respect from the early 19th century right through to the mid 20th century, and although FW Chanot was an excellent maker in his own right, he is mainly known for having Carlo Giuseppe Oddone and Giovanni Gaida as his assistants. Just another example of the illogical and irresistible pull of an Italian name.
This particular violin may well have been partly or entirely made by Giovanni Gaida, but to me it just looks like a great Chanot. Loosely inspired by the “Cannone” it has the typical flat and subtle arching of this family of makers, the materials are very typical, and the rather murky or nutty red varnish is also a trademark.
The work is meticulous. The rather gammy scroll is a nod in the direction of del Gesu – Chanot would have made a much nicer scroll on a Strad copy! The craftsmanship is of a very high level, the model is great and the size is great.
There are really no condition issues with this violin beyond a few chips to the varnish – edges and corners are all crisp, there are no cracks or repairs, and the violin has never been opened.
From Georges Chanot (I) onwards, the makers of this family have always had a great reputation for the sound of their instruments. We have had violins by Georges Chanot (I), Georges Chanot (II), FW Chanot and Joseph Chanot, and all have been excellent.
This particular violin is pretty faultless – it has a big and robust sound, bright yet meaty, very focused but still broad and engaging. Although lightly built it’s quite a stiff instrument, ideal for big Romantic players or for an advanced conservatoire student addressing the concerto repertoire – it needs quite a strong bow, but it’s extremely versatile and it will never crack under pressure. It’s unusually even and consistent throughout the register – there are no wolfs, pokey notes or weak areas. It’s a kind of Mercedes of a violin – a bit opulent, slightly flashy, and utterly reliable.
Very satisfying to play in all parts of the register, with a clean, muscular voice – in fact just quintessentially Chanot.