Giovanni Schwarz was the nephew and apprentice of Eugenio Degani. This instrument bears an authentic Degani label, but it’s signed by Schwarz. Is it a Degani or a Schwarz? Quite a tricky conundrum, but either way a very fine Venetian small viola with an outstanding sound.
The Degani family are best known for their uniquely artistic models, with lovely corners, heavy scroll fluting and deep edges. This instrument, while signed by Giovanni Schwarz, is 100% Degani in style and conception, even though Eugenio Degani died in 1901. In this respect it’s very like the instruments Gaetano Gadda made on a Scarampella model.
It’s a beautifully made viola, very precise in its carving yet still soft and rounded in general flavour. The condition is generally excellent – two small wing cracks and a 2.5cm edge crack to the upper right of the table, otherwise no issues. The original varnish is very well preserved, a bit worn here and there from some serious playing but still lustrous and impressive.
Degani school violins can be a bit fey in tone, but this viola is quite a powerhouse. It’s got a big arch, particularly to the table, and it produces a bold and fruity sound with a lot of crunch. It’s a real soloist’s instrument, very quick to respond, great under heavy bow pressure, really good in the upper reaches of the A, yet consistent and well balanced throughout the register. Really nice C string, not feeble at all, and an overall character that manages to be warm and enveloping yet supremely articulate.
All in all, a fine sounding modern Italian viola at a very competitive price …
Dimensions: length of back 39.3cm, vibrating string length 35.9cm
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