In Focus: Brescia Revisited
By Joseph Curtin, The Strad, November 1995
This viola by Curtin & Alf, Ann Arbor 1992, is the only replica of a viola they have made to date. It reproduces the ‘ex-Nathan Gordon’ Gasparo da Salo, a remarkable example of the Brescian master’s work. Despite its size (17 3/16 inches, even after being cut down slightly), the original was the treasured instrument of Nathan Gordon, for many years principal violist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It has been played more recently by the renowned violist Donald McInnes, who commissioned, and currently performs on, the Curtin & Alf copy.
For the top wood, the makers used spruce of North American origin, which they felt came closest to the visual and acoustic characteristics of the original. The back matches the original, right down to the eccentric figuration toward the centre of the lower bouts. Gasparo’s archings are in full evidence here: ample to the edges, then dropping suddenly to a deeply carved channel. For the scroll, Curtin & Alf shifted to a more Milanese style in accordance with the scroll found in the original, which has been attributed to Mantegazza.
The look of the old wood and varnish has been deftly captured. The predominantly golden-yellow tone of the maple has been warmed by an amber varnish, tinted slightly with orange madder, and antiqued to the point of confusion with the original.
|Length of body:||431 mm|
|Width of top bouts:||234 mm|
|Width of C-bouts:||203 mm|
|Width of lower bouts:||250 mm|
|Rib depth:||36.6 – 38 mm|
|String length:||375 mm|