Hilaire Darche came from a large family of violin-makers who all collaborated with or worked for NF Vuillaume in Brussels. He was a leading expert in the field of Italian violins and made many copies, but the majority of his violins are made in the crisp French style with fine materials and a highly reflective red varnish.
This is a very good example of Darche’s “Parisian” style – a classic Strad copy with no antiqueing which relies on clean and precise lines to achieve its look. The workmanship is first class and the wood is excellent. The pins in the back are a nice touch, set half under the purfling line.
The condition is very good, with no significant cracks or damages. There are discreet and neatly repaired wing cracks to each f-hole, and it looks like the neck may have been reset as there’s some disruption to the varnish around the button and heel, and there are minor edge cracks each side of the fingerboard. The varnish is very well preserved, and the edges and corners are very clean.
Darche was the violin-maker for the Conservatoire Royale de Bruxelles, and his violins are very reliable tonally – I always keep an eye out for them (or is it an ear?). This particular violin would be ideal for an advanced conservatoire student who needs power and articulacy without sacrificing tonal quality – it succeeds in being lively and muscular at the same time. The sound is very well balanced and consistent through out the register, the upper reaches of the E are full and musical, and the overall timbre is solistic. You can play right up against the bridge without the sound breaking, but the violin also sounds convincing at low volumes.
All in all, a great mixture of focus and flair – a violin that will project well in a big space without deafening the player.
Dimensions: length of back 35.8cm, stop 13-/195mm
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