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    Pellegrino di Zanetto de Micheli 1520-1603  

    "Dear and Illustrious Sir, I ask you to forgive me if I disturb you with this request of mine, but it is out of necessity that I am impelled to write you . 

    Many days, months, and years have passed since, on the request of signor Battista, a musician from Rome I made six violin for you for which I have received the sum of eight ducati and another eight when the instruments were cosigned, and you promised to give e the remaining nine as we had agreed upon and to send to... these violins, therefore, I urge you most illustrious Sir to pay me the balanced of what is owed because I am a poor man and have to send these violins ... most illustrious sir I kiss your hand an humbly implore you from Brescia, 21 October 1564"

    Zanetto Pellegrino maestro of violins

    Brescia state archive.

    Pellegrino di Zanetto de Micheli 1520-1603

    The De Micheli family is difficult to define and the instruments exhibited in the Liutai in Brescia exhibition, if I well remember of 2008, were by Zanetto's son, Pellegrino.

    Gasparo da Salo, Gio Paolo Maggini, Giovanni Battista Rogeri, and Zanetto are makers in Brescia.  The Brescian tradition of violin making goes back further then Cremona's while both apply the same principals of design and construction.  

    None of the early makers placed a great deal of importance on a refined wood work.  I feel these makers were in pursuit of tonal qualities, an ideal sound, and such process involved experimentation with different outlines, proportions, and f-hole placement.  Much of the difference between the work done in Cremona and Brescia lies in the shape of the arching.  The Brescian arching raises quickly from the purfling sometime culminating with what my teacher Francesco Bissolotti called a "dorso di mulo" (donkey's back).  Even early archings in Cremona are quite elegant and raise gently from the purfling often culminating with a plateau, never flat, to position the bridge.

    The Brescian violas and cellos are true masterpieces.  

    Today I will keep working on the final touches of the Zanetto cello I am making, I have included a few photos of the scroll.  




    Varnish on Zanetto da Montichiari 1576

    For several years I have been following the Borromeo Quartet and loved the Yeesun Kim's sound.  Her cello, a Zanetto da Montichiari made in 1576 beautifully blends singing quality of the high strings with a profound and resonant G and C.  

    Yeesun Kim is a wonderful musician and she can make any cello sound strong and powerful.  Yet, there is something special about her Zanetto, something that is almost mysterious.  Sometime power of the lower register is associated with large broad instruments, such as the Montagnana or Teccler makers, on the contrary this Zanetto is quite small. Fortunately the changes and repairs performed over time have not affected the sound, while preserving an elegant outline.  At first sight this cello looks slender, beautifully proportioned with large, somewhat primitive f-holes that remind the early style of Andrea Amati.

    Lately I have been working on a replica of it and I am now applying the final coats of varnish.  The original sports a code of arms with two dragons painted on the lower region of the back.  After much thinking, I decided to take on the challenge of reproducing it.  I have made Amati replicas in the past and my concern when painting on instruments is that adding a decoration would take away from the elegance of the instrument, its lines and proportions.  The trick one has to pull is to make the painting belong to the instrument.

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