Viola 41,5cm - Edgar Russ, Copy of Mantegazza, Cremona 2020
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The story of this Viola is actually very curious. Michael Strasser, a friend of mine who even came to Cremona to make some violinmaking for one week, is actually violist at the Vienna Philarmonics. When he had the opportunity to buy this original Mantegazza for 200000Euro 15 years ago, he went to the Bank. And instead of giving him a loan to purchase the instrument the National Bank of Austria proposed him that the Bank will buy the instrument for him and borrow him the viola for the rest of his life. He certainly agreed but after a few months he showed up and asked me to build a copy of his new Mantegazza since he still felt the desire to own a Viola all by himself. So I made hi the first one..., which he passed by to one of his colleagues in the Orchestra. He told me that some agreed that my copy sounded even better than the original. And so on. After all I think there should be approximately four of those in Vienna Philharmony and one in the Anton Bruckner Orchestra in Linz.
It is definitely a great sounding model. The arching are quite high and by looking at the model itself you wouldn't expect such powerful Viola. Might be also the ideal size; 41,5 is actually the winning size for all viola. The slammed back which is slightly slap cut; the oval and somehow rough and graceful scroll; a funky combination of precise craftsmanship and still you can tell that Mantegazza has been a Great Master from Venice. Some of his work has been attributed to Stradivari, just as a Stradivari Cello with a Mantegazza scroll.
This specific Viola has been made for the son of a friend of mine who is a promising Viola student in Vienna Austria. But at the time the viola has been completed for him Corona has been devastating here in Europe and the family decided not to travel and not to ship the viola since it would be too dangerous for all of us, Viola included.
But as a matter of fact I live and keep on going by making and so I decided to show it here to all of you; and who picks it first will be the proud owner of it.
I think it is very promising how it sounds. Listen here when Lena plays it: