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The brothers Lorenzo and Tomasso Carcassi collaborated on violins between around 1750 and 1780, and produced numerous superb sounding violins on a Stainer model. This is a very fine example in excellent condition for its age, with a powerful and limpid tone suitable for a demanding professional.
Carcassi is just one of those names …! Behind closed doors, any dealer will admit that not all Italian violins are created equal. Indeed, the further you get from the golden age of Cremona the less “Italian” they seem to become. But amongst the outliers, Gragnani and Carcassi are held in particularly high esteeem for their tonal qualities.
This example is entirely typical, very refined in construction using the best materials, quite highly arched with a long flat plateau to the belly, with lovely delicate edges and a very characterful scroll. It’s unusually well preserved – there’s still plenty of original varnish, and what restoration there is has been carried out to the highest standard in the Hill shop. The table has a post patch and a beautifully executed bassbar crack repair – it has also been half-edged. There’s a wing crack to the right f-hole and a shortish crack in the upper left table. The back and scroll are entirely free from damage – the ribs are generally unblemsihed, but there’s a small piece of new wood to the left of the neck root. All of these repairs are quite standard in a much loved violin of this age. If only all repairs were done with such skill!
This is quite a special violin with an unusual clarity of tone – I would say it’s uncompromising, but once you get used to it, the sheer responsiveness become quite addictive. It’s pure yet earthy, kind of a gutsy soprano, very much a solo voice.
The upper register of this violin is brilliant and very direct, but you can also dig in on the G string – not always the case on these more sophisticated Italian instruments. The attack is instant, the dynamic range is huge … all in all, this is a serious violin ideally suited to a small chamber group, perhaps the leader of a quartet.
Gorgeous to look at too …!
Dimensions: length of back 35.7cm, stop 130/195mm
Certificate: WE Hill & Sons, London 1960
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