A less respectful view of Dr. Fritz’s study is offered by the violinist Earl Carlyss, a longtime member of the Juilliard String Quartet. “It’s a totally inappropriate way of finding out the quality of these instruments,” he said. The auditions, he noted, took place in a hotel room, but violinists always need to assess how an instrument will project in a concert hall. He likened the test to trying to compare a Ford and a Ferrari in a Walmart parking lot.
“The modern instruments are very easy to play and sound good to your ear, but what made the old instruments great was their power in a hall,” he said.The anti-Walmart snobbery aside, that's a good point. However, I am reminded of Eric Blair's remarks that it is recording -- and not concert halls -- that offer us the real power of music in our current age. Just in the last two weeks, we've listened to recordings of songs that we might not ever have heard before the internet age; now, they're free for exploration. Thus, the "power in a hall" standard may need to be rethought, even by concert musicians. The question may become "How optimized is it for our best current recording and playback techniques?" The other remark that I found amusing was this defense by the study's author:
Dr. Fritz acknowledged that her study used few violins. But it is quite difficult, she noted, to get owners to lend out their million-dollar instruments to be played by blindfolded strangers.That surely must be true. It must be doubly true that it is hard to get such loans when the purpose of the study is to undermine the legend on which the value of their million-dollar investment is based!