This circa 1760 Landolfi allows the violinist to focus on the music, not the instrument

How does this violin compare to your previous instrument?

This is my primary (and only) violin! Prior to the Landolfi, I played a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin made around 1850. It is a particularly beautiful instrument by this great French maker and it served me well for a few years, but it felt like it was time for me to look for a different kind of sound. The Landolfi has that typical Italian sound sought after by so many artists. It responds very quickly and it is easy and fun to play! It has a clear core to the sound but is also very deep sounding and even through all the registers.

The most important thing to me is that I feel this violin allows me to think less about it and more about the music! The Landolfi seems to have an “extra gear” in concerts. I’ve been more and more pleasantly surprised with how it rings even more beautifully in a big concert hall.

What does it give you that can’t be found in any other instrument?

This instrument allows me to be more comfortable and free with the music and focus less on the technical aspects of violin playing. I’m sure this can be found in other instruments, but right now I’m very happy with where this particular violin is taking my playing.

How does this Landolfi inspire you?

This violin has focus and spin in its sound that allows me to let it speak as opposed to making it speak. Also, I like to describe the color possibilities of a great instrument like that of a painters’ color palette. This violin allows me to pick and choose from a wider range of sounds and tones than my previous violin.

What can you tell us about its history?

All I know about it is that this violin belonged to David Hochstein, an American violinist who lived in the early part of the 20th century.

Have you ever thought about the people who played it before you?

Instruments can be influenced, in a way, by their players. At this point in my relationship with this violin (I’ve had it since early last year), I am still learning what it has to offer and at the same time, I am trying to carve my own sound into it.

How did you come into possession of the Landolfi? 

I’m always looking to see what’s out there. I had been wanting to upgrade from the Vuillaume for a few months and I was lucky to find this instrument at a shop here in New York City.

What drew you to it?

As soon as this instrument came on the market, I kept hearing about it from a few different people around town. So, I was very curious to play a few notes on it. Right away, I felt a connection to this instrument and decided to take it home with me. I could tell that this violin could bring my playing to a whole different level. I happened to be playing a Mozart concerto in Florida a few days later and I used it for that occasion. It felt great from my perspective and I heard nice feedback from audience members and fellow musicians.

What are your instrument’s strengths and limitations?

It has a beautiful presence and aura. It’s only been getting better as I’ve been tweaking and customizing it to my liking since I’ve bought it. I haven’t yet found any limitations.

Have any of the changes you’ve made altered your violin’s sound?

So far everything I’ve done has only helped the instrument sound and feel better. It has reached a very stable point so I plan on leaving it alone! I’m curious to see how it will behave for our first winter together—fingers crossed!

What would your instrument say to you if the two of you sat down for tea?

“Arnaud, I have two requests: One, please sweat a little less on me! And two, can you keep me a little longer than your previous
violin?”


 

WHAT HE PLAYS

Player: Born in Strasbourg, France, and now based in New York, violinist Arnaud Sussmann has been in demand as a chamber musician and soloist since the Juilliard graduate (and Itzhak Perlman’s teaching assistant) won the 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant. He currently tours with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and regularly performs at Wigmore Hall and Music@Menlo. He has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, and several other labels. His latest solo release, on Telos, features three Brahms Violin Sonatas.

VIOLIN: Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi, from Milan, circa 1760, with Thomastik-Infeld Vision Solo G, D (aluminum), and A strings, with a Jargar medium E string. “I like these strings because they are very stable and have a clear and warm tone.”

Condition: “The spruce top of this violin has particularly wide grain. I love the fact that this instrument still has a lot of its original red varnish, over a golden yellow-brown ground.”

Bow: “I have a few different bows that I use depending on what I’m playing. Two that I use regularly are a Joseph Henry, circa 1850, and one Charles Espey made for me in 2009. I absolutely love bows, and I’m always looking around for great bows. In a way, a great bow can influence a musician just as much, if not more than a violin. (But that’s a whole separate topic!)”

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