For many years, we have closely followed and admired the work of French luthier Bastien Burlot who has built guitars for the likes of Roland Dyens and Thomas Viloteau. However, it is with his most recent project - which he is calling "Alkemia" that we are really enthusiastic. Bastien is building a series of guitars with rosettes inspired by the great cathedrals of France and this is our third from him - this one inspired by the Cathédrale Nôtre Dame de Paris (the first in this series was from Chartres
, and his second from Strasbourg
Burlot's personal insights into the meaning of this model are best told in his words: "When I started the quest that would lead me to the 'Alkemia' project, I knew that Nôtre Dame de Paris would be a special moment. We all know the tragedy of the recent fire that partially wounded the cathedral and it took me a long time to find out if I still had the courage to continue the work on this model that I had begun a few months prior to the fire. I finally thought it would be a great hommage to anticipate its restoration by offering this very special guitar that I’m now continuing to work on. I opted for exceptional woods that I have kept precisely for such an ideal moment. I am using some very old CSA Rosewood (aged for over 70 years) and also a beautiful red cedar top that will bring, I hope, a lot of character to the instrument. I was fortunate enough to visit Nôtre Dame de Paris recently and I was once again captivated by the immense evocative power of the building, particularly when passing in its forecourt, all the bells began to ring and I was struck by the timeless majesty that emanated from it. What beauty, what power … and what unfathomable magic too! These are the reasons that led me to design this guitar with special attention. I wanted to capture the essence of this majesty and offer the strengths of a modern concert instrument associated with the nobility of timeless architectural monument. To create the rosette, I chose to take inspiration from the South Rose which is dedicated to the New Testament. The exterior elements are composed of modern stained glass for the windows by Jacques Le Chevalier. I have chosen a stylistic approach that crosses the ages and can also lead to a more symbolic vision for those who may seek to unravel their mysteries…"
For Bastien, these great cathedrals act as "bridges between the profane, material world and a more sacred one." It is this ideal that he is bringing into the construction of each one of the "Alkemia" guitars - indeed each guitar is intended to be a portal where the player can enter into the sublime and mysterious world of music. This particular instrument has fit and finish that are extremely clean as per this maker's usual high standard. Materials are gorgeous including a stunning CSA head veneer that Bastien carefully cut to accentuate a spire-like shape with the sapwood to his head shape - really elegantly done. The sonic and expressive qualities of the guitar are as impressive as its design and aesthetics, with a rich, big and bold sound, thick with deep resonances and carrying power across all registers. We are pleased to be offering such an interesting and elegant instrument from this creative and well-respected luthier and look forward to his next installment(s) in the series!
Photos of this guitar taken during construction.