This is a lovely example of Hesketh’s del Gesu model – it’s in perfect condition and the sound is sublime.
Manchester isn’t renowned as a centre of violin-making, but it’s had a major symphony orchestra since 1858, and GA Chanot moved there at the end of the 1870s. Thomas Earle Hesketh was apprentice to Chanot, and went on to make a lot of instrument for members of the Hallé orchestra in Manchester.
This violin is a very fine example of his work, elegantly made and unusually well preserved. The model is del Gesu, with long gracefully swept f-holes, long c-bouts and very flat arching. The materials are first class – the table has a beautiful fleck in the spruce and the one-piece back has a tight diagonal flame with a high degree of chattoyance.
The condition is excellent – there are no cracks or damages. The original varnish is very well preserved – just a bit of typical “orchestral wear” to the upper treble rib and a few minor dunts and scratches.
This violin was the principal instrument of a Hallé first violinist. It’s the perfect size (35.3cm back length), and the sound is great.
Every couple of years or so I really fall for a violin, and this is one of them. For me it represents a kind of ideal – a modern instrument that’s well rounded, clear in tone but also warm, not in any way shouty, harsh, nasal or in your face yet still powerful and full of energy.
The overall character of this violin is smooth and opulent – it’s a great orchestral instrument, strong in fundamentals, easy under the ear, and with a voice that blends well. Also an ideal violin for romantic repertoire, retaining the same golden, full-bodied character throughout the register.
It’s unusual to find a violin that inhabits the warmer end of the spectrum yet still remains articulate and malleable, but this one does it all. An outstanding instrument at any price, and all the more special for being relatively affordable.