Larsen Virtuso Review - Orchestral Playing
I thought I’d write a review of my experience of using the Larsen Virtuoso strings in an orchestral violin section, specifically the 2nd violin section. I hope it’ll be of use simply because I was really surprised at how well they worked in that setting when they’re billed as ‘soloist’ strings. They really suited my violin on which I’d previously used Evah Pirazzi, and their flexibility suited quiet orchestral/section playing as much as big solo playing.
I’d always wondered about Evah Pirazzi being just too hard in a way, and I’d always wanted to try the soft version of them but never got around to it, so maybe that’s the next stop to make a better comparison with the Larsen Virtuoso. The first half of the program the day I first tried the strings was Brahms 2nd Piano concerto, which requires gutsy tutti playing, and delicate accompaniment, but with beautiful piano melodic playing too. The Virtuoso strings just seemed perfect for that, there are no two ways about it! The strings speak more easily than, and have a flexibility that means that you can play with expression in the piano sections, and that I think is the key to good strings for orchestral playing. The Evah’s tended to not speak well with delicate touch, and so you had the concern that you weren’t playing with enough quality and expression in very soft, but melodic passages. The Evah Pirazzi’s are very responsive of course because they feel higher tension, so it’s hard to put your finger on how to describe it…but it’s something to do with the Virtuoso speaking with less effort/pressure. With Evah’s if I played them in the same way, you’d worry that they might ‘squeak’ or something, but satisfyingly not so with the Virtuoso strings.
Evah Pirazzi feel very smooth (and maybe have a nice wider feeling to the profile of the string) but the Virtuoso feel so supple, so that string crossing and everything just feels a little bit easier.
A disclaimer is that every time you change your strings, you’ve probably left it too long! So this could definitely be an element in the big transformation I felt, I think it’s way too long since I changed my strings. I wanted to write about these however because I’ve not heard anyone else talking about them and I thought they were fantastic, particularly good for section playing, and had more versatility than Evah Pirazzi.
Of course everyone’s instrument is different, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a lot more of these strings in violin sections in the coming months and years, which would be a big turnaround for Larsen who haven’t been favoured by violinists for some time.