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S130 Unlabelled viola, Germany, late 19th or early 20th century$ 3,000.00
This 15″ viola has a warm orange-gold varnish, shaded to simulate wear but without any other antiquing. The modelling is broad, which balances the short body length and relatively low rib height. As a consequence the viola is well-suited physically to a smaller student player without losing too much bite and volume on the lower strings.
It comes with a shaped Korean case and a “G. Werner” viola bow in good condition.
S153 “The Stringed Instrument Co”, Auckland, 1993
This Stradivari-model viola was hand made in the workshops of the Stringed Instrument Company. The one-piece back has a very fine regular flame, sloping from right to left. The 16½ inch scale gives the lower strings strength while the upper register has a clear, open sound.
B889 William Edward Smith, Wetherby, England 1905
This handsome viola has a strongly figured back and a warm, red-brown oil varnish. With a resonant, characterful tone, this instrument would be excellent for an advanced student or budding professional.
S234, Viola, “Malcolm Collins”, #20, Upper Hutt, New Zealand, 1985
This is a relatively early viola by esteemed Upper Hutt violin maker Malcolm Collins – last year (2014) Malcolm made viola #60. A viola player himself, Malcolm has always been eager to keep his violas within a manageable size while enhancing depth and richness of tone. To this end, he favours a medium body size, broad bouts and deep ribs. The workmanship of this instrument is exquisite, as ever, and the pale gold varnish enhances the wood without hiding any detail.
S329 Malcolm Collins, #36, Upper Hutt, New Zealand, 1992$ 11,000.00
Malcolm Collins is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful violin, viola and cello makers. As a viola player himself, he has a particular soft spot for this instrument and has made 65 violas over the last four decades. He has always used a good-quality and very enduring oil varnish; this viola, in contrast to earlier pale-coloured instruments, is one of the first where he introduced colour into the varnish layers. Like all his instruments, this has a rich, characterful sound across all four strings.
S328 Anthony Elmsly viola$ 12,000.00
A 2016 instrument by specialist viola maker Anthony Elmsly. With a body length of 41.3cm (41.6 over the arch) this is a classic, manageably sized instrument, with the design based on some of the most successful alto sized models in history; the much copied “Conte Vitale” and “Primrose” violas by Andrea Guarneri. The sound of this instrument is strong and even across the range.
B918 Adrian Studer, Nelson 1990$ 14,000.00
It isn’t often we feature the owner of an instrument but this viola and its player have played such an important role in Dunedin’s musical life we feel the following biography needs no apology. Jack Speirs studied composition, music history, conducting, violin and viola in Edinburgh and Berlin before taking up a lectureship in music at the University of Otago in 1965. He was well-known as a violin and viola teacher, composer, orchestral and chamber music player, and soloist. He was musical director of the Dunedin Civic orchestra, now the Southern Sinfonia, for 15 years. This viola has a rich, warm, clear sound with a strong, projecting bass. As with all Studer’s instruments it is beautifully made.