Skip navigation

Tag Archives: baroque violin

A few weeks ago, I dropped in on the Tartini ensemble during a rehearsal in St Mary’s  church, Penzance. They were preparing for a concert of music by Dietrich Buxtehude and Jan Adam Reincken. And a very interesting and exciting concert it turned out to be:  music by two composers whose work is heard less often than it deserves to be, with brilliant performances on period instruments by the ensemble.

Here’s a photograph taken during the rehearsal.

It was also the first outing for the baroque violin that I wrote about a couple of posts ago.  After the rehearsal, Pamela Rosenfeld played this adagio by Tartini on it, accompanied by Nigel Wicken on a chamber organ.

Tartini adagio

Advertisements

Patrick Gale, who commissioned the baroque cello that I completed earlier this year, spoke  about why music was important to him in a recent broadcast on  BBC Radio 3.  If you missed his  brief and amusing  talk,  you can listen to it  here for the next few days.

Back in May, I wrote about making a baroque violin, a loose copy of the Charles IX violin of 1564 by Andrea Amati, now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. After it was completed, and while still in the white, it went off for a short trial by the violinist who had commissioned it and, having been approved, came back to be varnished. Varnishing is now finished and the fiddle has been set up again just in time for its new owner, Pamela Rosenfeld, to play it in the Buxtehude festival in Cornwall later this month.

Below are a few photographs of the completed instrument.

DSC_0019-1

DSC_0021

DSC_0027

This has nothing to do with instrument making, I know, but it has been such a wonderful year for bluebells in Hampshire that I couldn’t resist posting this photograph.

l10015291

I’ve also been enjoying making a violin. I say making, but completing would be more accurate. The instrument was started many years ago by Pamela Rosenfeld while attending the Cambridge courses on violin making that were run by Juliet Barker. Unfortunately, it was never finished because Pamela became ill. Having seen Patrick’s cello, she contacted me, wondering whether I might carry on where she had left off. She presented me with a complete rib structure around an inside mould, and a neck and scroll that had already been roughed out and various bits and pieces, including a bridge blank and boxwood pegs. We chose a nicely figured one piece back, decided on the wood for the front, fixed some details and work began at the beginning of March. Here are some photographs of the instument as it progressed:.

dsc_0004

dsc_0007

dsc_0011

dsc_0004-1

dsc_0003

And here’s the instrument more or less completed but still to have proper strings fitted and, of course, still to be varnished. It’s loosely based on the Charles IX violin by Andrea Amati, made in 1564 and now in the Ashmolean museum, Oxford. It’s set up in the baroque manner with a light bassbar, low bridge, short fingerboard and simple tailpiece, but the neck is morticed into the top block in the modern way – a compromise that should make it easier for Pamela to play. It’s very light – under 350 grammes – and I’m hopeful that, with gut strings and played with a baroque bow, it will prove to be responsive and lively.

dsc_0008-1

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about making a pair of tailpieces for two violinists who wanted to change the way their instruments were set up. The violinists, Pamela Rosenfeld and Liz Gregg, are members of the recently formed Tartini Trio who specialise in music of the baroque period. Naturally, they’re keen to produce an authentic baroque sound and, having already switched to gut strings and baroque bows, wanted to take things a stage further by fitting baroque bridges and tailpieces. Over the Easter holiday, Pamela and Liz visited me and let me hear the sound they were making. Very generously, and without rehearsal, they let me record them as a duet playing the Bourée from Handel’s Water Music. The primitive recording (made in my workshop with nothing more than an Edirol digital recorder propped up on the work bench) doesn’t do them justice – but even so, it sounds pretty good.

handel-bouree

Making Patrick’s cello led to a request to make tail pieces for two violins belonging to musicians who play in the same ensemble. They wanted to modify the set up of their instruments to produce a more ‘baroque’ sound and, as a first step they changed to gut strings. The obvious thing to do next, is to fit a lighter tail piece and I was delighted to make two out of a scrap of bird’s eye maple that I had left over from the fingerboard of the cello. I roughed out the shape on the bandsaw and then planed, carved and scraped them to their final shape before staining them. The weight ended up about 7 grammes, which is probably about half the weight of the ebony tailpieces they will replace. It’ll be interesting to see how much difference they make to the sound.

%d bloggers like this: