After learning and growing with my first ever very own violin for a time, I heard and tried one by Angela Moneff. I wasn’t actually looking for a different instrument, just enjoying the additional education of being able to play different violins as the opportunity arose.
I was able to hear it being played a little more from time to time and always found the sound very appealing, especially as time passed and it began to be “played in” slightly.
Despite the opportunity to hear and briefly try other very nice violins, this one haunted me; it had a little more of everything I was attracted to in the violin I already owned and added some extras of its own.
Ms Moneff is a Bulgarian maker and though I tried I could not unearth any further information on her work than is available on the Fiddleheads Shop site.
It is my understanding that hers is a smaller family type business so that supply will necessarily be limited and her name not that widely known to date outside of Europe.
To the best of my knowledge, she makes a Guarnarius model violin only. Which model Guarnarius she uses is unknown to me.
The workmanship on these bench model (handmade) violins is of very high quality. The obvious areas my amateur eyes make note of are the purfling, beestings, hand-carved scroll, joints (backs are two piece), fit of neck to body, f-holes, and overall general appearance.
The varnish is absolutely superb (the Fiddleheads website has further details on the methods used here).
A cautionary note – the finish when new is quite soft and demands extra care for a few months until it hardens somewhat. In the interim one may find it “antiquing” rather ambitiously.
Sound was the main attraction for me.
These Guarneri violins have a voice somewhat lower in register than say, the typically voiced Stradivari for instance. This was something I found immediately and immensely appealing. The sound is balanced and full from top to bottom, the D and G strings especially attractive to my ear with a touch of Viola to them.
There are beautiful and appropriate overtones aplenty developing, which die slowly after the bow is withdrawn. There is a large of range of colour and emotion available in response to bowing changes.
My violin is still relatively new (approx. 4 months) to me. It has proven to be consistent on all strings through third position, with Evah Pirazzis installed (third is as high as I can play to date, but my teacher has indicated I have homework as she has played it higher and says it likes to go there…ah dear.)
This violin responds quickly and easily and it will take me some time to be able to play up to the potential of this instrument. It demands somewhat more of me and while it makes my errors somewhat more obvious, it rewards my efforts and improvements with more beautiful sound and greater range than I previously thought I was capable of.
All of this encourages me to practice and accelerates my learning.
I’m not sure whom adopted whom here, but I am very grateful that this Moneff and I have come into partnership. I get to enjoy a truly beautiful (sound and workmanship) instrument, and at a price I could afford.
As it plays-in it develops greater depth of sound and character with a range and scope which I strive to learn to properly utilize. In return it brings me joy, a deeper understanding and the realization that at age 57 I can so learn a new trick or two.
HUGE value for dollar!
Well done Ms Moneff, and thank you.
- Michael Sears, White Lake, BC, Canada