The name of Antonio de Torres (1817-1892) is to guitarists what the name of Antonio Stradivari is to violinists. Taken as a whole, the corpus of instruments made by this legendary maker’s hand are today regarded as the foundational basis of the modern guitar. The impact that these guitars made on successive generations of luthiers is impossible to exaggerate – still to this day, most or nearly all of Torres’ structural and tonal improvements are still in use by all top contemporary builders. In Torres’ own day, the leading players such as Julian Arcas and Francisco Tarrega were already performing on his masterpieces, and successive generations of players over the 20th century continued to play them. Although increasing values on Torres over the past several decades has resulted in their placement largely within sphere of collectors, they are still highly desirable to leading professional players and occasionally make their way into the recording studio or even concert stage. Pepe Romero, Stefano Grondona, Wulfin Lieske and Marc Teicholz, among others, have brought them to life in recorded and live sound and we all hope this trend continues in the future, especially as more Torres instruments come to the public’s attention.
Built the same year as Tarrega's favorite Torres guitar (SE 114) and almost identical in dimensions and materials, this guitar (SE 115) is one of the great masterpieces of Torres' output for its provenance, quality of sound, condition and historical importance. It is in phenomenal condition with all original elements preserved, including original polish, tuning machines (Baker), internal pencil marks and even the original wooden hardshell case! Yuris Zeltins recently did some repair work to re-repair some old cracks, but left all original materials (including finish) intact.
The guitar was once owned by concert artist Matilde Cuervas (1888-1956) who used it professionally throughout her career. After her death, it was inherited by her husband and duo partner, the great pedagogue, composer and concert artist Emilio Pujol (1886-1980) who continued to use it professionally as well. Before his passing, he donated the guitar to his niece and in 1997 it was sold to Russell Cleveland, where it remained until coming to GSI.
Words are inadequate in describing just how rich and harmonious the sound is, how perfectly balanced the notes are when they blend together, and the sensation of playing the guitar as it vibrates against the players body. The trebles have an intoxicating, "velvety" texture to the sound and it is remarkable just how sensitive each note is to the slightest change in right hand position - allowing for a wide variety of color and expressivity. The basses are wide and deep, also with great lyrical charm and character. When evaluating the sound of a guitar like this, it's difficult to tell where the genius of Torres ends; and the accumulated years of being played by great artists begins. This instrument is truly a marvel of guitar making history.