This remarkable Neapolitan violin was made in 1900 but remains in near-mint condition. It’s a great sounding instrument, brilliant and responsive.
Naples has always been an important centre for musical instruments, and while Neapolitan makers sometimes lack the sophistication of their Northern Italian counterparts they have always had a great reputation for sound. Desiato Workshop instruments are rapidly built, and aimed at a local market of professional musicians who didn’t have money to throw around.
This violin was made in 1900, at which time Giovanni Tedesco was Desiato’s assistant, and it’s likely that he worked on this instrument – it has a slightly more classical look than some Desiato violins. It’s part of a quartet of instruments which were bought together from Desiato – all have remained in unused condition apart from one violin.
Condition-wise there’s very little to report – the neck has been raised slightly at the button, the pegholes have been bushed (presumably to improve their alignment), and there are some minor scuffs to the varnish which is otherwise as new. There are no cracks or damages.
There’s a myth that circulates in the violin trade that if an instrument is worn, tatty and heavily repaired it must be because it sounds good, and that conversely a pristine instrument must have stayed that way because it doesn’t.
This is of course so much horse-pucky – great instruments often remain unplayed, and awful sounding instruments can be much loved.
This violin is the perfect illustration, a sleeping beauty just waiting for a kiss.
Sound-wise it has the “green apples” quality of a Guadagnini – smooth and easy to play, quick and mercurial, with a complex silvery tone. It’s a flat-arched instrument made with just the right amount of wood, so the balance and projection are excellent.
A solistic voice with a silvery, lyrical quality that just seems very Neapolitan!