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Les Concerts de Pan – Episode 1 – Eugène WALCKIERS

Sunday March 15th, 2020 | Dossiers

Program: a native of the Auvergne, full of the kind of soft warmth picked up at the wine merchants’, makes his musette resound with a song from his land. Right when our virtuoso basks in the peak of his flair, street dogs appear; drawn by this burlesque music, their howls join his tones. Although accustomed to this sort of company, our native finds it hardly desirable; his inflexions have lost their vigor and zeal; they sigh, even; soon however, teasing his lament, he launches his tune again, and rides it slowly into the distance.

ABOUT THE FLUTE
“The flute I just played is very typical of French flute making in the 1830s – this instrument is an exact contemporary of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. It is a « simple system » with 6 keys, which goes down only to low D and not lower like most German instruments of the time, which often would reach low C, B, B flat or even sometimes A or G ! One can see the very small and oval embouchure, common on French flutes. This instrument was made by a maker named Bellissent, who is now forgotten and overshadowed by Clair Godfroy. This is unfair, as this flute shows a remarkable, even extraordinary craftsmanship. The reasons for him being forgotten are multiple, but among them I might mention a letter where Bellissent complains about the unfair business arrangement of Godfroy, who managed to make a deal with the teacher at the conservatory, stipulating that only students playing Godfroy flutes would be admitted to his class. This helps explain the success of some makers to the detriment of others. This flute has, like most good French flutes of that era, excellent speech from the lowest to the highest notes (very easy high C for example !) ; you can admire the quality of the craftsmanship, a key system with exceptional flexibility and dynamism, on top of being beautifully made. Notice the D# key “à bascule”, an invention of French makers that ensured a perfect positioning of the key flap, other refinements like the mother of pearl, are purely decorative. Finally, I would add that I was lucky enough to purchase this flute with two middle joints, which allow me to play in different pitches. In Paris around 1830, the grand opera was using a lower pitch than the « Opéra des Italiens ». With both middle joints and the tuning slide, I can have a remarkable range of pitch, from 420 to 440, and this nearly without any loss in tuning, which is indeed something very rare.”

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