A fine late 19th century Italian violin by the Neapolitan maker Raffaele Calace. Excellent condition and a warm and seductive voice.

Naples has a long tradition of violin-making, most famously the Gagliano dynasty, but also many illustrious 19th and 20th century makers. It’s also the home of the mandolin, and the Calace family were equally esteemed for violins and mandolins.

We are pretty selective about what we choose to sell, and as time passes we become more rigorous when it comes to sound and condition – this violin scores high on both fronts.

Condition-wise the only issue to report is that the table corners have been retouched – unsurprising given the model and the length of the original corners. Otherwise the violin is in an exemplary state of preservation, with no cracks and very little wear to the original varnish.

This is a great sounding violin, beautifully balanced and a joy to play. Its overall character is positive and uplifting, and this is down to a winning combination of responsiveness, warmth and high frequency zing. But in Naples you are never far away from tragedy, and this violin has that quality too – light and dark always close together.

It’s a very nuanced instrument, excellent in all parts of the register, and with just the right amount of sustain to feel sweet and smooth without being muddy. It speaks easily without ever seeming harsh or brutal, it has its own voice but it’s also a pliant companion. In other words, just an excellent violin…

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