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What Baroque Music of What Composers Do You Listen to?
Talking about personal preferences, favorite styles and composers.
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Demoiselle
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What Baroque Music of What Composers Do You Listen to?
Talking about personal preferences, favorite styles and composers.

I have been a big Handel fan since the age of 11. My father had records of his Fireworks and Water Music and Handel's Concerti Grossi. He listened to other kinds of music as well, but it was Handel who impressed me most.
Later I was listening to and playing nothing but jazz, but in the late 90s I returned to Handel and began improvising in his style too. But soon I got to know French composers like Lully, Charpentier, Marais etc.—also frequented a baroque dance class. Until 2011 I then got more and more interested in German/Austrian composers like Telemann, the early Hendel in Hamburg (Handel's true birth name), Muffat, Erlebach, Fux, always looking for nice suites to dance to. Menuets and Gavottes were my favorite tunes.
In 2011 I then began to understand, in order to develop my own improvised baroque style on recorder, it was more favorable to listen to Italian style solo sonatas than to French dance music. I bought CDs with recorder sonatas, but also some for solo violin. The violin sonatas also were supposed to influence my recorder phrasing, but instead they worsened my regrets not to be a violin player.
Since I began to play the violin in May last year, I had another change of style. Before I had preferred to buy CDs with music of the early 1700s, now I prefer solo sonatas for violin from the 1600s. I also bought Vivaldi's violin sonatas he had published in the Netherlands in 1716, but mainly listen to the Italian generation before him: Albertino, Stradella, Legrenzi, Uccellini etc./etc. My favorite form now isn't the Menuet so much anymore, but rather the Chaconne. I also prefer to dance it.
I also have sort of close relationship to Johann Mattheson, who was Handel's/ Hendel's friend in Hamburg, for Mattheson published lots of books on music issues, which I love to read via facsimile books. I have two CD albums with Mattheson's harpsichord and violin sonata works.
At young age I had bel canto lessons and still sing baroque repertoire. That's why I also have lots of CDs with vocal works from the baroque period.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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pj1968
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Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, of course... plus Albinoni, Corelli, Couperin, and Scarlatti.

Criticism does not disturb me for I am my own severest critic.

- Jascha Heifetz

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Demoiselle
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I shouldn't have forgotten Corelli, I have sonatas with just b.c., for violin and recorder of. His sonatas for violin are very important now, to influence my style. I sorted my Albinoni album out, since it's unauthentic symphonic sound. But I should look for Albinoni, whether he has some soloistic for me. I have nice things from Torelli, but not solo stuff.

I shouldn't have forgotten my double album of Bonporti, which is violin plus b.c.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Jacques
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I suppose Bach is the main guy in that aspect, I would say Eugene ysaye 'ballade' is a modernized baroque style with more aggressive sound.

 

here is my new favorite video. 

I too enjoy improvising in a very modern baroque style (double stops harmony while playing melody) I like it because it is slow and passionate - dipping and diving the bow in these drawn out stroke with distinct timbre or mood. It's romantic , it's colorful, it's hard, and it's soothing. Not fast and bright.

 

but I don't know much about baroque unless my statements above are accurate.

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Demoiselle
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I prefer Handel's famous keyboard sarabande to ride over. Bach had never been to Italy, like Handel did and I feel like he has not Handel's natural groove.

Bach was not just pretty much unknown at his time, he was also taking away musical freedom from his musicians. Which made them very mad, because variation and improvisation was common. Handel's fame in London also came to the Reich, so he got famous there as well. But the most successful musician of that time was Telemann, who was older than Handel and Bach. Bach was regionally known and that was pretty much all. Bach's fame started in the 1800s, when Lutheran's more and more discovered his church music.

If it comes to freedom of improvisation, Handel is the better example. But we only scratch the surface of the music community at that time, if we only see Telemann, Handel and Bach. To stay in the Reich, there were composers like Erlebach, Fux, Biber and not to forget the Hamburger Opera composer Keyser. All these people, and more, where more important than Bach at their time. And their musicians had to be able to do both: read sheets and improvise (like jazz professionals today). If we involve France, Italy etc./etc., we get an extremely long list of star-composers, who were famous all over Europe at their time.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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To present two examples which show how free and groovy baroque music can be, I'd like to add two great videos of the standard theme LA FOLIA:

The first one is a session with the Spanish violinist Lina, the second was recently posted by Fiddlerman:
feature=em-subs_digest

LA FOLIA resembles a usual SARABANDA a lot. Both come from Spanish music, there still can (and should) be percussion added (not necessarily a must but it belongs there) and they are meant for dancing. The dancers of the early 1700s still used castanets—mostly females and this was also the case in France and Germany. So both have a lot in common with what we call Flamenco.

Back to Lina's version: I really thought, these people are improvising, because it comes across so naturally grooving. But then you see, they have sheets. So they can, like some jazz musicians do, play off sheet and make it groove like just riding on something. To me it very much sounds like improvisation, which to me is one more proof, that this music really was supposed to be improvised.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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La Folia
| Dm| A | Dm| C |
| F | C | Dm| A |
| Dm| A | Dm| C |
| F | C |Dm/Dm/A| Dm|

Keyboard Sarabande by Handel
| Dm| A | F | C |
| Gm| Dm| B♭*| A |
| Dm| A | F | C |
| Gm| Dm/Dm/B♭| B♭/B♭/A| Dm|

* For improvisation choruses I find B♭ best, but while playing the theme Handel's way is best for this bar: |B♭maj7/Gm7/Gm7|, but of course we don't play all five notes. Handel arranged it this way and I follow it: 

 

D D--  (descant notes)

A G-- (descant notes, second voice)

______

B B-- (bass notes)

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Jacques
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Demoiselle said
La Folia
| Dm| A | Dm| C |
| F | C | Dm| A |
| Dm| A | Dm| C |
| F | C |Dm/Dm/A| Dm|

Keyboard Sarabande by Handel
| Dm| A | F | C |
| Gm| Dm| B♭*| A |
| Dm| A | F | C |
| Gm| Dm/Dm/B♭| B♭/B♭/A| Dm|

* For improvisation choruses I find B♭ best, but while playing the theme Handel's way is best for this bar: |B♭maj7/Gm7/Gm7|, but of course we don't play all five notes. Handel arranged it this way and I follow it: 

 

D D--  (descant notes)

A G-- (descant notes, second voice)

______

B B-- (bass notes)  

a d g are "holy notes" in the Pythagoras theory of music. 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/es...../sta19.htm

i suppose that's why the fiddle makes such good drone notes.

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Demoiselle
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I don't know how holy notes were to Handel, but his solution in the 7th bar is simply ingenius. I find avoiding parallel fifths in a case like this generally not a good idea, because it makes the Spanish heat lukewarm, but this solution of Handel is divine. I feel like it is to hear, that Handel had spent time in Italy and got closer to the sources than Bach. Great parts of Italy had been Spanish territory for a long time. That's why there have been a lot of similarities between Spain and especially South Italy. Authentic baroque music is youthfully hot—very different from post-baroque symphonic interpretations dominating the last century before the 1980s. I must warn folks to consume the kind of baroque music which is being played in the style of classical music, which is lukewarm, lame and bloodless. It can be compared in this very interesting video:

The woman plays authentic, she sounds natural and simply better.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Tipiaowsek
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I've fallen in love with Vivaldi's and Bach's music. I listen to Handel, Pachelbel and Telemann occasionally. I thought I like Albiononi until I read about Adagio in G not being by him?

Do not practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong.

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Fiddlerman
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There are so many!!!

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Demoiselle
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Since I started on violin 2015 I was constantly looking for CDs with violin sonatas of the 1600s and early 1700s and got to know dozens of composers. I guess it never ends and I can really get a headache over it because I easily forget names.

The last CD I bought this summer was by the Austrian violinist Gunar Letzbor and is named "Anonymous Habsburg Violin Music"

https://www.hbdirect.com/album/2697143-ex-vienna-anonymous-habsburg-violin-music-gunar-letzbor-violin-ars-antiqua-austria.html

I bought it because I knew the violin player is a real giant of ancient music. But one might assume the compositions are not so brilliant, because those composers are no big names and actually no-names. Well, the music is wonderful. I need all these many influences to shape my style. People back then also heard a great variety and that's how they developed their ear.

Someday I should really search all my CDs and list the names of composers here, separated into nations, so there will be some order.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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On Wednesday there was a music program on our national German public radio Deutschlandfunk. It was about a composer of the 1600s I had never heard of: Johann Sebastiani and his Matthäus Passion he had composed 1672. (This is not Bach, "Sebastiani" is his family name!)

Deutschlandfunk recorded this at the Musikfest Bremen, but the musicians and singers were Americans: Boston Early Music Festival Chamber & Vocal Ensemble.

It can still be heard here [by hitting HÖREN on the photo (which means HEAR)].....

http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/wiederentdecktes-schluesselwerk-sebastianis-matthaeus.2825.de.html?dram:article_id=391638

....but they're not only playing, they're also talking, explaining the music. (There's a man from Deutschlandfunk discussing with some of the musicians and singers who speak German very well.)

But as I said it before: there's still a lot to discover even for me, although I know dozens of composers in the baroque era. I guess it never ends......

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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Today there were Christmas cantatas on above Deutschlandfunk radio. I had never before heard of this composer, who was a predecessor of Johann Sebastian Bach as cantor at Thomas church in Leipzig. He was a scholar (student) of the famous Heinrich Schütz and Thomas cantor since 1677. The program can still be heard here on the Deutschlandfunk homepage, by German public radio. (Hit the blue "HÖREN" on the image over there -- like in my above post next to this one.)

http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/....._id=397795

So our list of baroque composers, hardly anybody knows today, is getting longer still. 

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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AndrewH
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I have to admit I don't listen to much Baroque music at all; I'm very much a Romantic both as a performer and as a composer. But I'd like to draw attention to Baroque composers from farther afield. There's Thomas Arne and Charles Avison from England, who I think are unfairly neglected. And there's actually a huge body of Baroque music from Mexico, of all places! Look for music by Manuel de Zumaya and Ignacio de Jerusalem, in particular. Zumaya was probably the leading composer in the New World in the first half of the 18th century, and was the first person born in the Americas to compose an opera. Jerusalem, while Italian-born, spent almost his entire musical career in Mexico.

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Demoiselle
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AndrewH said
There's Thomas Arne and Charles Avison from England, who I think are unfairly neglected. And there's actually a huge body of Baroque music from Mexico, of all places! Look for music by Manuel de Zumaya and Ignacio de Jerusalem, in particular. Zumaya was probably the leading composer in the New World in the first half of the 18th century, and was the first person born in the Americas to compose an opera. Jerusalem, while Italian-born, spent almost his entire musical career in Mexico.  

I'm mostly into Italian and German baroque, before 2010 very much into French baroque (because I was mostly interested in singing and dancing). On  the long run I decided against Purcell and generally English baroque. I simply don't find much inspiration there for improvisation. I heard something of Polish baroque composers but never got into that.

But I always found New World baroque fascinating and read about Zumaya. Mexico is interesting because Spain was the most important place of origin for Renaissance music which developed to early baroque music. There's a theory which says the ciacona (chaconne) came from the new world, but I doubt that because LA FOLIA is too old for that influence. I think it were oriental influences of the Muslim culture in Spain which mostly influenced European music. We didn't just copy Arabic figures from there, but also instruments like guitar, lute and violin. The chaconne is very close  to flamenco! And the chaconne became very important to me after 2010 since it downright calls for improvisation.

New World baroque music must have been manifold: Who were the important composers in the Nouvelle-Orléans of king Louis XIV's Louisiana  for instance? I think  there must have been maîtres de la musique who probably composed in Jean-Baptiste de Lully's style. Maybe those are long forgotten, but I guess if you ask Canadian friends of baroque music, they will name you Canadian composers. Boston will probably be not too fruitful since fundamentalist Protestantism was radically against all kind of amusement. Your home state, California, was colonialized to late, but Arizona could be more interesting....

I never heard about Thomas Arne and Charles Avison, which is no wonder, since they've been born very late around 1710. It depends on how you define baroque music. Some people throw rococo also into the baroque period, but I don't agree with that. What lead to the symphony style which later evolved to the classical period, is mainly considered the Mannheim school but that's withholding the fact that this new style actually came from north Italy a bit earier. I think German theorists have been falsifying history in this point. Which I didn't know, until I heard a music program about exactly those Italian composers who started all this. It was nothing but involving the drama out of the Italian opera into concert music—that was the symphony style. But sadly drama doesn't swing, so no wonder classical music aimed away from improvisation.

So our ideas about the music between baroque and classical period are a mess. I feel like involving the term of the rococo period. I see no other way to classify the time between baroque and classical period. What else would be Leopold Mozart?  Arne and Avison did probably start with baroque music in the 1720s but as I just read they later tended to early classical style.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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AndrewH
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The thing about English music, though, is that from about 1700 to 1900 English composers tended to lag two or three decades behind trends on the continent. The rococo/Galant style was prevalent in England as late as 1780, and in an extreme case, William Herschel was still writing essentially rococo music well past 1800. Similarly, Wnglish symphonists of the 1870s still sounded much like Schubert or Mendelssohn. So it's likely Arne and Avison were writing bona fide baroque music much later than you think.

That said, you're probably more knowledgeable about baroque music generally than I am. I'm very much a Romantic; even Beethoven was far too restrained for my taste.

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AndrewH
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You are absolutely correct about Boston, by the way. I've taken an interest in early US music, so I'm familiar with most of the earliest composers in the US. Incredibly, there is not a single record of any piece of instrumental music being composed in the British North American colonies (the future United States) prior to independence. The earliest purely instrumental music composed in the United States was a set of four piano sonatas composed in Philadelphia by Alexander Reinagle in 1786.

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Demoiselle
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AndrewH said
The thing about English music, though, is that from about 1700 to 1900 English composers tended to lag two or three decades behind trends on the continent. The rococo/Galant style was prevalent in England as late as 1780, and in an extreme case, William Herschel was still writing essentially rococo music well past 1800. Similarly, Wnglish symphonists of the 1870s still sounded much like Schubert or Mendelssohn. So it's likely Arne and Avison were writing bona fide baroque music much later than you think.

That said, you're probably more knowledgeable about baroque music generally than I am. I'm very much a Romantic; even Beethoven was far too restrained for my taste.  

 My "knowledge" comes largely from original source, since I began to read the books written by German composers of the 1600s and 1700s. To average Germans these books are unreadable, firstly because of old German type and secondly due to gravely differing grammar and spelling. English hasn't changed so gravely, but German standard language is younger and changed a lot. But when I came from jazz in the late 90s, already pushing 40, I was fairly innocent. My background was my father playing Bach and Handel a lot on our home piano and my stepmother having lots of records of those composers. So they obviously influenced me with their baroque preference which made me a huge Handel fan in my early teenager years of the 70s. But then I got into jazz and became a semi-professional player, singer and tap dancer in the 80s. When the jazz audience changed and jazz went smooth and shallow I read about improvisation during the 1600s and early 1700s. So that was why I involved so much work an fanaticism: I needed a new musical home where I would have creative freedom like in jazz. And I found it mainly in the Italian solo sonata of the 1600s.

Interestingly, an Italian violin professor, who played on our public radio in August, explained why baroque music tends so much to improvisation. There were no sheets for solo violin in the 1500s. Violinists just played popular songs and improvised over them. Later they started to compose pieces for solo violin in exactly that style. That's basically how the Italian sonata style came up. So my guess years ago was correct, since I felt these sonatas would sound like improvisation and be suited to influence my style.

England was very different from the European continent and they tended to stubbornly do their own thing in many aspects. The English Protestantism  was different from the Protestantism on the continent and so was their view on life generally. Brexit actually shows this hasn't changed. English baroque music simply doesn't fit my concept. I have a double CD with violin sonatas by Purcell which to me sound too composed. There isn't that old Italian spirit anymore which sounds like a phrase is great but it could as well be different and it would be possible to find dozens of more variations. And I think this has to do with ideas of a firmly established worldview within British Protestantism. Italy was Sodom and Gomorrah, not just for art, but also for all who traveled to find sexual amusement, including homosexuals. So this really reminds a lot of the golden days of New Orleans, when jazz, alcohol and prostitution thrived. Many jazz musicians call me crazy if I state it, but I state it again: Jazz started 300 years earlier than they think.

I found Antonín Dvořák extremely impressive in the mid-90s—especially his 8th symphony. I remember a very sweet sound, like flowers, bees and butterflies in the spring in mild sunshine and a warm breeze. Suddenly it's like hell breaks over it and the Orchestra spits fire, boiling mad. Dvořák was a big Handel fan by the way, but he did his own thing. He composed something and then made and essence out of it and then again the essence of the essence. I still find this very impressive and indeed it made me compose for my synthesizer symphony orchestra which was even to hear on local radio and tv. But firstly this work was tiring, even mind-shattering and tending to make me sleepless. My opera of these years was extremely tragic and dragged me into temporary depression. You can't write stuff like that without paying a high price! Romantic music tends a lot to melancholic world view, up to severe depression and even death wish. I still find it very impressing and fascinating, but I was looking for the real thing with natural instruments—not midi-synthesizers. And I came to the result, improvisation is better than composition—and healthier especially to sleep well. I still also listen to Handel at times, but he's not my big idol anymore, like he was in my early days. Italy of the 1600s is exactly what I need and those German violinists who imitated composing violinists from Italy.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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AndrewH said
You are absolutely correct about Boston, by the way. I've taken an interest in early US music, so I'm familiar with most of the earliest composers in the US. Incredibly, there is not a single record of any piece of instrumental music being composed in the British North American colonies (the future United States) prior to independence. The earliest purely instrumental music composed in the United States was a set of four piano sonatas composed in Philadelphia by Alexander Reinagle in 1786.  

You have to consider, North America was pretty much a penal colony and retreat for protestant fanatics. I guess a few people among them liked to compose music, but I'm afraid they hardly found a big audience. The protestant fanatics indeed tended to suppress arts. I know these fanatics from German pietists, who declared any kind of amusement works of the devil. Any kind of dancing was grave sin to them and the only music they tolerated where religious hymns to praise the Christian God. Germany was dominated by moderate protestants, mainly Lutherans, so the fanatics couldn't harm the arts. That made Bach possible. But many protestant fanatics from Germany also immigrated to America. It's really like that....that you sadly got many of our music-hating fanatics. Some of their descendants obviously preach on air now.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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