We have become completely besotted with the Prague makers – their instruments are of the highest level tonally, yet still so undervalued in the marketplace. Scheverle is a rare maker who is believed to have apprenticed with Hellmer – here we have a superb sounding viola of an excellent size.
From Eberle to Strnad, the Homolkas, and right into the 20th century with Vávra, Pilar etc, the Prague makers have consistently produced instruments of equal tonal and aesthetic brilliance to their Italian contemporaries, yet their instruments remain ridiculously affordable by comparison.
This viola is a good example, rich, sophisticated and mature in sound, with a musical character way in excess of its price tag. It’s a well designed instrument with deep ribs, muscular arching, and great wood throughout.
There are several repaired cracks to the table of this instrument, but crucially no post or bassbar cracks. All the work is stable and professionally executed. The back is entirely free from damage, as are the ribs apart from the upper treble rib which has some fine restored cracks. All this is quite normal in an instrument of this age. The chestnut-brown varnish, so typical of this school, is largely original and well preserved. The head is probably a later replacement, to my eyes more like a Mittenwald scroll.
I can’t claim to be much of a viola player, but to my ears this sounds like a real viola – deep, rich and resonant with a kind of enveloping warmth that just makes you feel a bit gooey. At the same time it’s very responsive, light under the fingers, and with a brilliant and assertive upper register. It oozes quality, and it would be eminently suitable for a professional chamber musician who can’t quite afford a Balestrieri.
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