Georges Chanot is widely regarded as one of the greatest French makers, with a very personal style and a great reputation for tone. This example is an early Strad model, very artistic and with a phenomenal sound.
From Lupot and Pique through to the early days of the Vuillaume shop, violin-making in Paris enjoyed an extraordinary period of achievement. The bar had been set very high by Lupot, perhaps the most successful Strad copyist of all time, and many makers of the following generation stood on his shoulders. Their violins were made to the highest levels of craftsmanship, and the tone they pursued makes a mockery of the ill-informed chestnut of ‘the French sound”.
Georges Chanot has found his place in violin history as being the next best thing to a Lupot! He was a great student of the classical Cremonese violins, and worked exclusively with Strad and del Gesu models. His varnish tends to be of a rich plum red with beautiful refraction in the maple, and he always stays just the right side of his colleagues’ obsession with sharp lines and revolutionary design. Compared with a Gand or an Aldric, his violins exude a kind of round softness – they are welcoming rather than impressive!
This violin is a very typical example, with a stunning one-piece back and a deep red varnish. The condition is generally very good – there’s a post patch in the table and a very nicely restored crack below the treble f-hole, otherwise there are no issues.
This is one of those violins that it’s quite hard to say anything about! Everything is in the right place, there are no weaknesses or pokey notes in the register, it’s powerful, responsive and rewarding. The overall tonal character is broad and meaty (Lupot-esque in fact), yet it’s a subtle instrument too, capable of a lot of nuance, and with a superb high register. It needs a bit of a bow stroke to make it work, but it has reserves of tone and character that you just don’t find on most instruments.
It never gives in, and it always sounds great.