Jonathan Hill

A fine contemporary viola d'amore by Jonathan Hill

This viola d’amore is copied from a very fine example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, made by Jean Nicolas Lambert (and sold by his widow in 1772), one of the most outstanding Parisian makers of his day. Jonathan’s instrument is typical of the very high standards of workmanship and acute observational skills that I have come to expect in his work. Quite simply, it is the finest viola d’amore by a contemporary maker that I have seen in many years.

 

Philippe Briand

A good contemporary viola after Scarampella by Philippe Briand, London 2009.

Phillippe Briand’s viola was made after being inspired by the restoration of an original example by Stefano Scarampella, made in Mantua around 1900. The instrument is enormous both physically and tonally, proving to be a very compelling and exciting viola.The abnormal choice of wood and the dry-looking varnish all relate very accurately to Scarampella’s original work, and Phillippe avoids the usual pitfalls and assumptions that violin makers fall for when interpreting the late Mantuan school: It maintains the required high standards of craftsmanship, leaving the rustic appearance only to the model and choice of materials. As a result the instrument is highly accomplished for it’s kind. I’m hoping to ask him to make another very soon.

 

Steffen Nowak

A good contemporary viola by Steffen Nowak, Bristol, 2014. After Gaspar da Salo.

I’ve known Steffen since my first days in the violin trade, and have admired the respect that he has earned for his instruments. Steffen’s work is certainly amongst the cleanest that I have seen, and his aim is always to make instruments to look as they would have appeared when they were first made. His attention to craftsmanship, and especially his passion for sound produce some very enjoyable instruments to play. This viola is based on an original, made by Gaspar da Salo around 1580-1600. As his instruments age naturally over time, I think they will come to be considered amongst the classics of contemporary British making.