This is a very fine early Gand & Bernardel violin. It’s in exemplary condition with no cracks or damage, and the sound is big and beautiful.
No-one would deny that Gand & Bernardel, like Vuillaume, produced some awful sounding violins. But the best examples of both workshops are sublime.
Vuillaume was a relentless experimenter, copyist, marketing genius and self-publicist whereas Gand & Bernardel (and Gand Freres before them) kept their heads down and stuck to what they knew, in particular the model and style of work passed down from Charles F. Gand.
This example is from their best period, and the wood and the varnish are exceptional. The model is a large Stradivari pattern, softened in some details, formalized in others. The varnish is superb, soft but very refractive, with a style of antiquing very reminiscent of Gand Père.
The condition is excellent – the only issues to report are a few dunts to the varnish and some wear to the treble table edges. The neck angle (always too steep on on French violins of this period) had been modified with a shim to the button.
This is a stunner of a violin, big and unctuous, very friendly to play and entirely without weakness. It’s consistently full and musical throughout the register, it’s loud without ever sounding harsh or unpleasant, and there’s plenty of zing and definition in the high register.
Along with all this there’s a certain nobility of tone which is also found in the violins of Lupot and Gand.
It’s very hard to make a bad sound on this violin, yet it has a broad palette of colours and it can be steered in different directions. It has enough sparkle for solo work, but it would blend well in any scenario.
In my estimation it’s the perfect violin for an orchestral professional, a smooth and comfortable ride but with some serious power under the bonnet!