Violin by Nicola Zurlini, Cremona, Italy, 2001


Acquisition — From Cremona
Given the recent resurgence of violin making in Cremona, Italy, I fantasized about owning a violin made in Cremona by a maker from that region who had studied at the Cremona Violin Making School with the finest Italian teachers. The pattern would be Cremonese (Stradivari) and the construction entirely in the classical tradition. I may be a brand victim, but here I wanted the real thing: a violin supported by centuries of experience, not the exotic design of a single maker. To complete the list, my preference was a one-piece back of awesome wood, irreproachable craftsmanship, fine varnish, and — as in the best works of art — the whole would seem alive.
On the label Nicola Zurlini gives credit to his master, Giorgio Scolari.
Since I wasn't going to travel to Cremona, I just kept my eyes open. And after a couple of years, by chance this beauty by Nicola Zurlini crossed my path.

Description — Classical and Personal
Within the classical standard, Nicola Zurlini managed to find his own style, readily recognizable. The brown varnish, bold yet fully transparent, blends in with the yellow ground to produce a unique, lovely shade. At first I wasn't sure about the colorless edges, but then the neck also has no varnish to anticipate future wear, so they make sense. Of course, the borders and details are where the makers can freely develop their individual touch. The black strands of purfling come out a very little, as embossed over the surface of the violin; had never seen that and must say it looks exquisitely refined. The f-hole shape, placement, and cut display much subtle refinement, too. I'm not a specialist but find the corners of this fiddle amazing: so fleshy, so fluent, so involving, so accurate, so beautiful! I could stare at one of these corners for hours and just feel happy.

Tone — Inspiring
The quintessential tone one imagines when thinking of a delightful violin is what I hear playing this Zurlini. It sounds lively, penetrating and spacious, with silky smoothness. This violin manages the feast of combining brilliance and projection with a mellow feel. I may be mistaken, but here's my guess:
  • from its Stradivari pattern: a noble harmony,
  • from its small size: an unquenchable enthusiasm,
  • from its slab-cut back: a diffuse, ancient-like complexity,
  • from its perfectly graduated top: a flexible and resonant power,
  • from its ebony fittings: a direct focus.
There is a resonance that cushions the upper register, preventing shrill accents. The lower register projects quite well thanks to some "nasal" voice placement. This Zurlini's personality is optimistic, ready to play whichever repertoire you bring, not out of naivety, but because it really loves making music. It is inspired in its response, like great instruments, not just executing precisely what the player asks for, but also bringing forth a variety of moods and emotions.

I find the scroll very stylish but unpretentious, spontaneous, completely in spirit with the whole violin. The way the volutes curl up is cute, almost shy — absolutely charming.

More about Nicola Zurlini:
Measurements & Data
Maker: Nicola Zurlini (1965-)
Made in: Cremona, Lombardy, Italy
Year: 2001
Back Length: 353 mm *
Upper Bouts: 169 mm *
Middle Bouts: 109 mm *
Lower Bouts: 208.5 mm *
Stop Length: 195 mm
Rib Height at Neck: 30 mm *
Rib Height at Endpin: 31 mm *
Thickness of the Top: 3.5 mm
Thickness of the Back: 4.5 mm
F-hole Length: 76.3 mm *
Distance Between F-holes: 41 mm *
Distance Edge-Purfling: 4 mm
Scroll Width: 42 mm *
Weight: 438 grams
Nicola Zurlini
alievo di Giorgio Scolari
fece in Cremona 2001 NZ

Label Translation:
Nicola Zurlini
pupil of Giorgio Scolari
made in Cremona 2001 NZ

Condition: Mint, just some edge dings and chinrest marks.
Certificate: Nicola Zurlini, Cremona, Italy, 2001.

* measured with a caliper

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