Ray Chen comparison of Old versus New Violin
Ray Chen was at the Museum of Violin in Cremona and though this wasn’t the intent it became a comparison of a beautiful 1734 Guarneri de Gesu and his own contemporary instrument made by Kurt Widenhouse. Both sounded amazing! From the recording, the contemporary seemed to have better projection.
Why isn't the bow identified? that's a big part of the equation.
the modern violin sounds plainer, and the Del Gesus is richer in tone, just what I would expect.
I did not expect the difference but I am agreeing with Lyndon.
I loved both there both fine violins with fantastic sound. I think modern violins can sound fantastic and this one is a great one. My favorite quote my Luthier tells me every time is “Stradivarius made new violins”. And I would rather have the widenhouse because there isn’t hundreds of years of history.. being added to the price. Interesting idea for comparison though
I prefer the modern violin.
I didn't listen. I don't think there's any hope for comparing the sounds of two fine violins using a YouTube video. Mr. Chen's opinion would matter to me, but only if the comparison could be made entirely blind. Hard to do because they will feel different and he knows his own violin well. You'd have to have them played by a third party.
The modern violin sounded bland, and didn't seem to project significantly more.
Projection isn't about volume. Most violins can put out the same dbs.
The modern violin is certainly a very powerful instrument, but it looked as if he had to work twice as hard to get that sound from it. The Del Gesu has much more colours and richness, a beautiul sound.
All this goes against the typical theory that priceless antiques are super hard to play, that you have to "get to know them" and learn how to "coax sound out of them" and so forth.
It's always easier to judge projection when playing a solo piece with orchestra, rather than alone. While playing alone in a hall can give some clues about projection, only a real test with other instruments will tell how the violin cuts through the sound.
A few hints/observations:
Paul wrote: " All this goes against the typical theory that priceless antiques are super hard to play, that you have to "get to know them" and learn how to "coax sound out of them" and so forth."
I think whether or not you have to learn to adapt to an instrument has a lot to do with whether or not that instrument naturally matches the way that you play. A lot of soloists who get loaned big-ticket antiques don't have a choice in
I love how all these experts think they can tell the difference based on a youtube video.
Another person that only listens to music blindfolded, ridiculous!!
Who only listens to music blindfolded?
To me from a listener perspective the differences are akin to that expected from a same maker's instruments or even from different strings, in other words subtle. No two instruments ever sound the same, and these are no exception. Not much of a surprise there. Is one better than the other? A matter of taste and player.
on my expensive stereo, that difference between the two violin is pretty big, night and day, totally different kind of sound, the Guarnerius sounds better but I can see how someone might prefer the plainer tone of the modern, just not my taste.
Um, he looked like he was having A LOT more fun playing the del gesu ;)
Very obvious difference - they both sound good, Chen's technique seems to fit the Guarneri better.
Listening just once on my phone I heard differences but not earth-shaking ones. I'm sure that on better equipment or live, those differences would have been more striking. The del Gesu sounded to me warmer and richer; the Widenhouse refreshing and a bit more clear.
Sound quality of a phone is pretty poor, you're not going to hear as much differences there.
I know . I acknowledged that.
To hear the warmth of a del Gesu violin you really need to be playing back the music through a tube amplifier.
I am using a 60s tube amplifier.
Ray’s attitude seems really open minded, it’s about learning from each violin. It’s a good point made earlier above that we are discussing sound within the context and variability of recording and playback setups and we should be realistic about those limits.
10-20% is still pretty significant. Remember that many musicians are willing to pay vast sums for that extra marginal gain of maybe 1%.