A Contemporary Viola By Jon Van Kouwenhoven, 1986. 16 5/8.”
Jon Van Kouwenhoven is a prolific American luthier residing close to Hartford, Connecticut who enjoys a longstanding reputation for crafting instruments with a voice which defines careers and which have a high success rate at auditions. Kouwenhoven instruments are owned by renowned performers around the world, including Bashmet, Bronstien, Honeck, Kashkashian, Kramer, Geringas, Rostropovich, Jordan Bak, and many others. He is perhaps most highly regarded for his violas. Originally a sculptor, Kouwenhoven brought his discipline and artistry to a new level under the guidance of Otto Erdesz. This particular viola’s voice is broad, deep, and full, with crisp response, ample resistance to shape both timbre and phrasing, and a finished quality that I would describe as velvety, if not even sultry in texture. It responds well to different bows, which can push the profile further in any of these directions, and represents a known quantity in the world of violists.