It’s strange how few Mirecourt trade violins one sees from 1850-1870 – perhaps this was a period of unrest in Alsace, or perhaps it just reflects the fact that industrialisation hadn’t quite got under way yet. Anyway, that’s what we have here, a superior French trade violin which bridges the gulf between a Didier Nicolas and a JTL! It’s clearly informed by the style of Lupot, Aldric et al with a bold and broad-grained one-piece front, a well-rounded and rather monolithic scroll, and a great quality of “rugged elegance”. The one-piece back has a deep and dramatic flame, and the varnish is pretty hot!
The condition is reasonable – there are two well-repaired cracks running down from the right f-hole, and there’s evidence of a repair to the right side of the button. There’s also a repaired tear to the bottom rib, most likely damaged by an over-tight chinrest. Otherwise there are just the normal signs of wear from a well-used violin.
Soundwise this violin is a stunner – very loud, very responsive, very easy to play, with a warm and creamy tone that doesn’t sacrifice edge and articulation. Overall it’s quite a dark instrument, but there’s plenty of grit if you play close to the bridge. It couldn’t be further in character from what people think of as a typical French violin, the sort of Gand & Bernardel stiff and nasal “clarinet tone”. It’s very rewarding to play – lots of overtones and different colours to be found. It’s also one of the best violins I’ve come across for Irish music – it has that sticky and slightly mysterious midrange that makes all the difference in articulating dance tunes. However, don’t be a snob – it’s also a great instrument for classical repertoire, well balanced and versatile.
All in all, a great violin for the price, and guaranteed to improve the vibe in any musical setting!
Dimensions: length of back 36cm, stop 133/194mm
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