As the accompanying documentation attests, in 1917 this violin was certified as a Calcagni by no less an expert than Joseph Chanot. And while it’s clearly not a Calcagni, he was correct to see the violin as Genoese, and very accurate in his dating – a recent dendro analysis by Peter Ratcliff reveals a latest year date of 1742!
In the opinion of John Dilworth this violin is by Giuseppe Cavaleri, an obscure maker of the Genoese school and a follower of Calcagni. The construction is quite idiosyncratic and yet very stylish – one piece front, broad yet narrow-waisted, big corners, the purfling set well in from the very flat edges, and a beautiful monolithic scroll.
The condition is pretty spectacular – there are no cracks, not even a table post patch, the edges and corners are in generally excellent condition, and the original varnish is beautifully preserved. There is a small amount of half-edging in the upper left shoulder and there’s a small insert in the bottom rib around the tailpin, but for a violin of this age the state of preservation is remarkable.
This is a great sounding violin, bold and warm but with a silvery edge – it has an unusually wide range of colours and dynamics. The tone is fully realized even with the lightest of bow strokes, but if you hammer into the G in 10th position it won’t crack. The overall character is muscular, but it’s also sophisticated and nuanced – lots of resonance under the chin, and a very satisfying sense that everything just works. More DG than Strad in character, a very classy 18th century Italian violin at an attractive price.
Length of back 35.5cm, stop 132/191mm
Certificate: John Dilworth, Richmond 2017
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