Rüdolf Hös

Rüdolf Hös was born to an important family of instrument makers in Füssen in 1640, but was sent away to apprentice in Rome sometime around 1663. His application for citizenship of the city of Munich states that he spent 19 years in Italy, working in Bologna and Venice before his return to Germany. Here he worked briefly in Munich, then Augsburg, and returned to Munich to become instrument maker to the Ducal Court, probably in response to the death of Jacob Stainer, who had been supplying the court with instruments up to at least 1680.

The viola is a direct response to Stainer’s large violas, with a similar rib depth and scale, but it is somewhat narrower, making it an eminently more playable instrument. There are sound Italianate features to the instrument, but in this case I feel that his nineteen years in Italy enhance the sale of the instrument, and not its price, since the viola is strongly Northern European in design. That said, his German contemporaries from Füssen who remained in Italy include Matteo Goffriller and David Tecchler.

Altogether a charming historic instrument of considerable rarity with the expected sound of a great 17-inch viola. The present setup optimises a longer string length, to take full advantage of the size. Some restorations, and priced accordingly.

George Pyne

George Pyne is an English maker who interests me enormously. The majority of his works are fairly unassuming, and result in his reputation being lumped in with less appealing stereotypes of early 20th century English making, but some of his works stand up to the very best traditions of the period, standing shoulder to shoulder with Wulme Hudson, the Voller brothers and other makers with direct links to the vibrant Wardour Street violin trade. The result is that his work and reputation remain underrated, and best examples can offer really good value for money against instruments of comparable craftsmanship and vintage.

Many of his instruments are made simply and unpretentiously, without any trace of faking or antiquing, and contemporary biographers speak strongly about his morals and how he avoided the more devious aspects of violin making. Yet as I have become familiar with his work, I’ve seen more examples that point towards him being as active as the Voller brothers and George Wulme Hudson in creating fakes and imitations.

This violin is based on the work of Giuseppe Rocca, a maker from Turin whose work was common in London in the late nineteenth century, becoming a target for various fakers including the Voller brothers. Features of George Pyne’s work include a habit of almost always using the same sound hole template and soft, wide edge work of a particular style that is present in this example – suggesting that he was more an imitator than a forger in his approach to older instruments, but otherwise demonstrating such a close relationship to genuine works by the Voller brothers that it would be easy to mistake it as their work.

A super violin in it’s own right with a very clear and strong sound under the ear that carries well. The perfect violin for someone hankering for a Voller (or a Rocca) on a smaller budget.

Hippolyte Caussin

The Caussin workshop specialised in producing antiqued instruments for the London and Paris trade, but in the early years their instruments were made to extremely high quality, and the work of the family – Francois-Nicolas and Hippolyte are highly revered, with instruments occasionally appearing by Claude-Augustin Miremont and Paul Bailly.

The violoncello by Hippolyte Caussin is the best of type, an excellent French cello of the mid-nineteenth century, with a strong classical Italian look that has improved as it has aged. The instrument is in excellent condition, and a superb instrument of professional standard.

Lockey Hill

Lockey Hill had a prolific and varied career. This example shows enormous influence from his father, Joseph making it one of the most attractive models to come from his workshop, with especially elegant Amati-styling around the soundholes. An excellent and powerful violoncello with huge professional potential. The cello has expertly restored cracks in both the front and back with a proportionate reduction in price. A very good opportunity to acquire a first-class English cello for a discounted price.

In 1917 the violoncello was acquired for the Royal Artillery Band, and was almost certainly put to use entertaining officers and troops behind the lines on the Western Front. It is one of several instruments known to us with RA Band inscriptions carved into the back of the pegbox of this kind.

Nathaniel Cross

Nathaniel Cross is a much talked about maker of the early eighteenth century, and his concept of combining a Stainer outline with Italian arching anticipates Roman and Florentine makers by a at least a decade, and his constant experimenting with Italianate form underlines his close relationship with Daniel Parker. Hence many of his instruments have been convincingly relabelled as Carcassi or Gabrielli. This example from 1726 (made for John Barrett in Piccadilly and still showing traces from the Barak Norman workshop) has the combination of power, focus, and colour that characterises Italian violins. It is both a historic example, and preserved in exceptionally fine condition. All round, a superlative violin of professional standard at a good English price.

Laurent Bourlier (III)

Laurent Bourlier came from one of the more established families of violin makers in Mirecourt, with a legacy going back to the middle of the eighteenth century. Some of his labels declare an association with Nicolas Lupot – more accurately “Bourlier / Après N.Lupot” and this violoncello goes some considerable distance towards vindicating the claim. The model is very flat and powerful in keeping with Lupot and some of the principal Parisian makers of the early 1800s, perhaps reminding me closer the work of Aldric than Lupot, but nevertheless solidly Parisian in it’s modelling. The lighter varnish, and choice of plainer wood distance it from Parisian work and make it characteristic of the very best of Mirecourt work of the early nineteenth century, before the village centred on factory production.

It is very pleasing to be able to represent cellos of this quality, having much of the properties of the finest French workmanship at price reflecting it’s Mirecourt origins.

Bourlier cello stamp

Kai-Thomas Roth

Kai’s violoncello has enjoyed a distinguished professional career over the last decade, and was recently replaced by it’s first owner with a Vuillaume: Higher praise is difficult to come by. This copy of a Venetian cello by Matteo Goffriller has a huge sound and excellent projection. A serious cello for a young cellist going through Conservatoire and into the profession beyond.

A Good Baroque Cello

A good entry-level baroque cello which took the last owner through conservatoire and into the profession. The instrument was made in Mirecourt in the first half of the nineteenth-century, and has an original setup that is quite close to late-eighteenth century standards. The model of the cello is loosely derived from pre-Stradivarian forms with particularly characterful soundholes that add to it’s character and suitability within a baroque band. Antique cellos suitable for period performance priced under £10,000 are very difficult to find. This has been a great first step for a performer in the past and deserves to find another upcoming player.