Last summer, the German-based Pirastro string company came out with a new violin string set called "Perpetual Cadenza," which is a slight variation on their "Perpetual" strings, which came out in 2018.
In September, I strung my violin with a set of "Perpetual Cadenza" strings, to see what they are like. These strings were given by Pirastro to me for review; they are about $100 for the set through Shar. The E is a steel string; the others are synthetic core, with the A wound in aluminum and the D and G wound in sterling silver.
At this point, I've gone through four months of playing on them, putting them through several orchestra concerts, quartet sessions and a lot of violin teaching. I feel like I've gotten to know them well enough to share my observations.
First of all, my opinion is going to be filtered through my preferences, so let me tell you what I like in a violin string. For a long time, I strung my violin with Evah Pirazzi strings, and then I tried the Jargar Superiors. In both cases, I loved the sound, but these were very powerful strings. As an orchestral musician who very often plays second violin, I do not necessarily need a super-powerful string.
I'm also interested in achieving a quality sound at the quieter dynamic levels when I'm playing in orchestra, which requires blending in and sometimes getting all the way down to a triple-piano ("pianississimo"?). These days, I tend to use Pirastro's Obligatos as my default strings, and I like them quite a lot. As I understand Pirastro history, the Obligatos were actually the pre-cursor to Evah Pirazzis - they have the same beauty of tone without quite as much volume.
So to put my views in perspective, "too much volume" for me might be just the right amount for a lot of other players.
When it came to the original Perpetuals, which I tried several years ago, they are known for their powerful and focused sound, I found them to be exactly that: powerful and focused. They were a little bright and high-volume for my taste.
The "Perpetual Cadenzas" are similar to the "Perpetuals," but with a little less edge, which I have liked better. That said, they are definitely powerful strings. My first thought was, again, too loud, give me back my Obligatos!
But let me put that in context: during the pandemic I let my strings get ridiculously old, and I didn't have the chance to play with anyone else. Once I started playing out in the "real world" again, everything seemed too loud - this was a real phenomenon for me. I had to get used to more volume of sound as I started playing in-person with other people again.
So as I got used to playing again with others, playing in orchestra, etc. I grew to really like the Perpetual Cadenzas. This level of volume was actually just fine, once I settled in with it. They are also just slightly darker-sounding than the original Perpetuals, but I would not call them a "dark" string.
The Perpetual Cadenzas did not take long to break in or to be pitch-stable. In fact, what I liked the most about the Perpetual Cadenzas was the focus, and for me that meant a real purity of pitch. Yes, there were plenty of overtones, but the notes just felt very true-to-pitch and reliable, not at all fuzzy. I felt like I could blend with an orchestra section when needed, or I could choose to poke out of the texture more when I was playing first violin in my quartet. The quality of sound when playing quieter sections also was clear, no faltering or fuzzing-out when going down to very soft dynamics.
The strings also sounded steady over all four strings, like a matched set, with no one string having a noticeably different voice.
As for the lifespan of the Perpetual Cadenzas, I'd say it's about the same as with other strings by Pirastro, which for me is 4-6 months before I start feeling it's time to change the strings. (The lifespan of most strings will depend both on their inherent nature and on how much they are played, so this will vary from person to person.)
So in the end, I liked the Perpetual Cadenzas a lot for their:
Let me know if you have tried these strings, and please share your impressions in the comments!
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