Nearly blind tasting

Edited: November 29, 2021, 10:50 AM · As background, I really have no actual training in lutherie, and don't spend enough time with old instruments to know how people immediately tell a Rogeri from a Ruggeri, etc. But I had a nice moment last night.

A piano trio-- one of the few live performances I've been to recently that I wasn't playing in-- was at a college with a modern, medium/small recital hall. I knew nothing of this young group, filled with London-trained Koreans. But it was a nice program, and at a time of day that some friends from out of town could come.

I was intrigued by the violin at the outset. It appeared to be Italian, but with more of a belly than you get in the later, most famous ones. I didn't get a really good look at the shape, as it was under the player's chin and I was 10 rows back. I'd initially thought 'Gagliano' (varnish and belly curve), and the first phrase played on it didn't completely change my mind. But then, while it wasn't especially sexy-sounding, it didn't have any of the nasality that Gaglianos sometimes do. What completely blew apart that first guess was the dynamic range, which was extraordinary. It sounded at first like most good violins, but then when the player wanted fortissimo, it just grew, and grew, and grew. And none of that appeared to be coming from anything unique in her skill.

Anyway, there was a full explanation in the program. She was being lent a 1666 Strad by a patron.

This is the kind of impression that you'd never get on a recording. Volume is easy to fake, but the physical impact of a really huge sound only works live. And while I'd heard an early Strad as used by the Tokyo Quartet, that wouldn't have been the moment to hear it really cut loose.

Replies (4)

November 29, 2021, 1:43 PM · Doesn't the ability to go from ppp to fff mostly depend on the ability of the player? (Granted, there are some "monotone" instruments on which this is really difficult.)

Anyway, I appreciate the enthusiasm and sense of discovery of your post. :-)

November 29, 2021, 4:20 PM · Interesting. Sounds like a fun event. I thought the early Strads looked like Amatis more so than Gaglianos.
November 29, 2021, 5:49 PM · Yes. I was going on a quick first impression from a bad angle. Which explains why I was so surprised when the sound became what it did.
December 4, 2021, 11:03 AM · David, my PIANO, even at its best, was pretty impossible to play really softly.

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