Evah Pirazzi Gold line. Unlike strings in the regular Evah Pirazzi Gold set, however, the C, G, and D strings are built with a rope core and tungsten or chrome windings (whereas the standard Evah Pirazzi Gold line has synthetic cores and silver or tungsten-silver windings).Today I am reviewing a new set of viola strings from Pirastro, a part of the
For full disclosure, I was offered these strings for review from the 2022 NAMM show, but my opinions are my own. Although I received them in January, I had some concerts in the spring and summer for which I was nervous to change things up. I finally put these on in August, and have been playing on them ever since, for about four months.
Normally, I use Passione strings, also from Pirastro. I discovered Passione strings several years ago when I started playing on a newly-made viola. I found that the strings in the Passione line, which have a treated gut core, found a sweetness and depth of color which brought the new instrument much closer in sound quality to a fine older instrument. This didn’t surprise me, as gut strings were the standard for centuries.
As a student, I had been told by more than one teacher that Eudoxa and Oliv strings (both containing gut cores) were wonderful for tone. When I tried them out, however, I found the pitch instability to be frustrating. So I was pleased to discover that Passione strings have much more stability. But "more" stability doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of tuning when playing on the Passione line, especially in humid weather.
Enter the rope-core Evah Pirazzi Gold set. I was startled at the stability of these strings. After an initial break-in of only 2 days, these strings kept their pitch with great consistency. I have Wittner geared pegs on my viola, and these strings respond easily to the unique way that these pegs function. I find that when playing in a rehearsal, I will typically tune the strings at the start of each rehearsal half, but rarely have to touch them in between.
All this stability, however, is moot if the strings don’t sound good. Over the last four months, I have had a chance to try the strings out in live chamber music, solo and orchestral recordings, and live orchestral performance settings. My initial impression of the strings were that they were full and spoke loudly without much effort.
At first this was a challenge – I had a film soundtrack recording the second day I was using them, and controlling the quieter dynamics took a bit of effort. However, after another day or two they settled in nicely and I found that they were responsive at both loud and quiet dynamics, in some cases allowing for more coloristic range in quieter dynamics than the Passione strings I am used to.
For viola, an instrument built with certain acoustical challenges, having a clear sense of the sound is critical to hearing and adjusting pitch. I found the rope-core Pirazzis to be confidence-building in that regard. The sound has both "width" and punch, a good combination in my mind. It is nice to feel that when I’m playing loud or solo passages, I have room to shape the line in the upper end of the dynamic range without easily reaching the upper limit. Ultimately, I have become a real fan of these strings. I think they compare well with Passione for color and expressive range, but they are less work to keep in tune, and they seem unlikely to break.
I also remain satisfied with the set after four months of use (that I didn’t remove them after a week should tell you a lot about my impression of them!). I assume they will lose some of their brilliance in the next couple of months, but they have lasted longer than I expected them to.
The C, G, and D strings sound even across their ranges, and from one string to the next. The A string in the set, made of chrome-wound steel, is the least distinctive, but matches the set well. Ultimately, if these strings become widely available, I would strongly consider making them my primary set. I might swap out the A for a original Larsen (my go-to), but otherwise I find the new rope-core Evah Pirazzi Gold viola string set to be a joy to play on and a welcome addition to the Pirastro string catalog.
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