Paul Blanchard was an outstanding maker who worked for HC Silvestre before setting up his own workshop in Lyon. The violins he made pre-1900 are vey highly regarded, and the del Gesu models particularly so. This violin is a spectacular example in mint condition, with an outstanding concert sound.
I’ve always been intrigued by the Lyon school, mainly because these makers seem to produce consistently great sounding violins. Paul Blanchard (1851-1912) is a central figure in this picture, apprentice and co-oworker to HC Silvestre, and in turn succeeded by Emile Boulangeot. Blanchard’s work is very fine, and his fiery red varnish is quite unmistakable. Mainly he worked on a Strad pattern, but here we have a lovely del Gesu model with the characteristic oval scroll that we first see in HC Silvestre’s Guarneri copies.
The condition is superb – no cracks or damages of any kind. The corners and edges have very little wear, and the varnish is almost pristine.
This is a huge-sounding violin, one of the loudest and most projecting instruments I’ve come across in a long time, yet it achieves this without sacrificing any quality of tone – it’s zingy, rich and very responsive. The entire register works well, and there’s no loss of intensity from bottom to top. Always smooth, musical, and full of life. I suppose this must be down to the arching and the quality of the wood – somehow everything is perfectly in balance here. I could carry on heaping superlatives on this violin, but really you have to try it to appreciate its particular qualities. If you’re looking for a powerful and rich-toned violin that can be heard in front of an orchestra, yet which is friendly enough to make practising a pleasure, this would be a great choice.
Length of back 35.7cm, stop 129/196mm
Certificate: Vatelot-Rampal, Paris 2017
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