Great violin-makers don’t grow on trees. Georges Cunault (1856-1941) learnt his craft from Sébastien Vuillaume and CA Miremont, both of whom had a rare gift for sound. Generally Cunault built violins on his own Strad-influenced model, but here we have a rather special del Gesu copy. The label is inscribed “made specially for Mlle. Giraud” and her name is also on the top block. This most likely refers to Yvonne Giraud, later the Marquise de Casa Fuerte, a very prominent figure in the Paris music scene who would have been 17 when this violin was made, and already studying with Darius Milhaud.
The violin itself is a very fine example of the high Parisian style, and it remains in unusually good condition, with no cracks or damages.
If you suffer from any prejudices about French violins, this instrument would surely disabuse you of them – it’s pliant, elegant, powerful but without harshness. It’s definitely on the smooth side, but it can also be made to growl and bark. All in all it’s a very fine sounding violin, full and mellifluous in tone, and with a great high register. Eminently suitable for professional performance, it would give a real boost to a talented conservatoire student – I love the idea of Giraud playing for her lessons with Milhaud on this violin!
Length of back 35.5cm, stop 131/195mm
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