right: I still play the same instrument I got from my teacher in high school. It's a very excellent student instrument, made by the Czech maker Julius Hubicka in 1920. I have to say that I am terribly attached to this cello, probably more so than I should be given that I had already grown out of it in 1996. I have to credit Mark Norfleet for keeping me afloat all this time: he really does an amazing job adjusting stringed instruments so that they can sound their absolute best. I think it would probably take some deep psychoanalysis to figure out WHY I haven't gotten a new instrument, but the short version is money, family (I have, after all, had three kids in the last 8 years) and also, lack of the perfect match...and I guess I always figured out I would know when the moment was right.
As you can imagine, I have played many a cello in the last 16 years. New, old, thin, fat, brown, red (sorry, I had to quote my favorite book about Elmer, the patchwork colored elephant). I discovered very fast that the debate is between getting a newly made instrument, and getting an old instrument. For X dollars, You can probably get a better contemporary instrument than an old instrument, simply because the makers are still alive and they are still making the instruments. On the other hand, the older instruments appreciate more so they are better as investments, and there's also the fact that a new instrument changes quite a lot over time, and has to be played in. There's a camp that says you should only consider getting an old European-made instrument, and a camp that says the contemporary instruments are absolutely the only thing you should consider. I always thought myself rather in the second camp, since my quite physical playing style seems to fit the contemporary cellos well. But...
This summer I played a cello made by HC Silvestre in Paris in 1868: I guess that would fit in the "old" cello category. EXCEPT, it plays like a new instrument! Ahh, how to describe this cello...Complex, sophisticated, sturdy, not particularly beautiful to look at, more like a Pinot Noir or a Cab Franc rather than chocolate or coffee in sound. I could play Bach on it for eternity. Extended techniques? No problem, harmonics would pop out like firecrackers and sound like a million bucks. The tension is high on the strings, and so the cello plays hard - but that is just fine by me, since I am rather a physical player. In the month that I played the Silvestre I just scratched the surface of what we could do together, and got a glimpse of an amazing palette of colors and possibility. Mind you, I haven't fallen in love with it so much that my wits would completely leave me (I have heard of such things, and of people selling their houses for their instruments). But I AM trying to figure out how to buy it. With this cello, stars seem to be aligned and, if I could use another cliche, opportunity has come knocking. It for sale by a friend, and indeed, I would be able to get for a VERY fair price. Life is amazing, isn't it?
If you want to hear how it sounds, stop by the "sounds" section, the short movement is from my "Lullaby Suite", Finnish Lullabies a la solo Bach.