Hippolyte Chrétien Silvestre is one of those makers whose violins always sound terrific. This example has some significant repairs, and presents a rare opportunity to get an exceptional tone at a low price.
This is what we like to call a “Dolly Parton” ie. had a lot of work but still singing sweetly.
Before its little accident this was clearly an exceptional violin – beautiful broad even grain to the spruce, an outstanding back, and very refined work throughout. In spite of the condition it’s still vey attractive – the model is loosely del Gesu, with the distinctive oval scroll we often find on HC Silvestre and Blanchard Guarneri copies.
The condition isn’t great, but all the repairs are neat and professionally executed. The back has a full-length crack travelling through the soundpost, with further small breaks around the post. The front also has various restored cracks. As a consequence of these repairs the varnish is rather compromised in places, though the ground layer seems intact and the maple is still highly refractive.
The sound of this instrument more than makes up for its condition – it’s a very powerful violin, clear and muscular without sacrificing breadth of tone. Unusually even in response from bottom to top, and capable of withstanding any level of abuse. It’s an ideal instrument for a conservatoire student on a budget who needs to perform “the big stuff”. It’s almost impossible to find anything affordable which will project the Romantic concertos in a hall and satisfy the tastes of demanding teachers – a classy violin in heavily restored condition can be an excellent solution.
Dimensions: Length of back 35.5 cm, stop 129/197mm
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