We cut our teeth as a business buying and selling Mirecourt trade violins by JTL and Laberte. It was obvious to us that for a talented student looking for great tone and playability they represent the best value for money. Equivalent German instruments of the period are too inconsistently made, without any over-riding principles of quality control, and modern Chinese violins never have the maturity of sound of a good Mirecourt.
Here we have a lovely early JTL bearing a Buthod-Thibouville label – the date is largely illegible but it seems to be 189*, and this certainly fits with the construction. It’s a rather refined model with more than a nod towards Collin-Mézin – the work is very precise with typical sharp edges and strong lines.
The overall condition is unusually good. There is a near-invisible post crack in the table with an internal patch but no other cracks or repairs, and only a few minor chips and dents to the otherwise beautifully preserved varnish.
The sound of this violin is bold, bright and beautiful. It’s not for a faint-hearted player – in my estimation it would be ideally suited to a budding soloist. The tone is focused and forceful enough to cut through an orchestra, but it’s also musical and well-balanced. Plenty of oomph in the lower register, great response, and a lot of volume in reserve. But the place where this violin really soars is on the E string, which is broad and brilliant right up to the top of the fingerboard.
All in all, something of a specialist violin, but if you’re looking for a concert instrument or just a lot of power, it would be hard to find anything better for the price.
Dimensions: length of back 35.9cm, stop 131/195
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