Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Italian Musings

Entries into this blog have been sadly absent this year. As I’ve
written before, it means that I’m busy in life.
Should I make a New Year commitment?

Is that a cliché? Is it destined to fail?

Likely, yes on both accounts. Instead, I’ll try to do some short entries. Perhaps that is better for all – those who might read and myself. I do admit that Facebook as taken a bit of the thunder out of these writings. When it is possible to jot a one or two sentence thought of your immediate feelings, it quells the necessity to ponder the last several days or week and write a tome.

Thus – today’s entry, essentially verbatim from a post to a violin makers forum about a recent trip I took to Italy. I will try to do these short paragraphs more often. Expect more from this recent journey, as well as video.

I'm back from Italy; a fantastic trip in every regard and Cremona was a real joy.

At the museum, seeing the molds, knives, clamps, etc. of Tony himself was quite awing. We also went to the town hall, where my girlfriend was quite struck by the Amati built for King Charles the 9th. We heard Andrea Mosconi (the conservator) play the Strad Ex-Bavarian there. It's on loan to them at the moment. I wish he'd have let me play it, as I would have given it a bit more of a work out. :)
In terms of playing, though time was a bit limited, I had a chance to play several violins in a few different shops. Overall, many of the shops weren't really 'open' to the public, but the luthiers I did manage to talk to were quite friendly. I played a few 'used' violins -- a 1690 C.G. Testore, for example (for the price -- eh).

Of the new violins, I noticed quite a range in quality. What I took away from the trip was the, i guess obvious, "Luthier located in Cremona" is not synonymous with "great". I realized fully that Cremona is to many Luthiers what Los Angeles is to actors. You're going to get a wide range of capability.

However, not to be mistaken -- I did also play some very concert worthy fiddles. I was most impressed by one that was made by Andrea Castellani. To the point where I asked him the price; a surprisingly low 6000 EU. It did get me thinking. In the excitement of playing violin after violin at his shop, I didn't ask him what bow I was using, which I regret. In hindsight, it was the best bow I've ever had my hands on. Hopefully an email to him will have him remembering (and hopefully it wasn't a Tourte or something. I'd really feel like an ass.)

Anyway, a great experience. I suggest everyone do it once in their life, at least.