An introduction to the Traverso
I find that exploring the world of early flutes, though fascinating is quite an all-consuming undertaking!
There are so many beautiful flutes available, not only originals from the period but copies of many, many interesting models reproduced by some excellent makers today. Some original flutes can be purchased through auctions and many others through high quality retailers (see bottom of page for some).
If you are considering beginning to learn the one-keyed traverso, it may be hard to know where to start! Something to consider is that the best quality early flutes do not come close to the monetary value of top -of -the -range Boehm (modern) flutes.
You may find one 'all purpose' flute is enough for you, at least to begin with, or if you are interested enough to take it a little further, you will find there are so many interesting models out there, from different countries and suitable for various time periods.
So, to choose a flute practical for your own purposes, consider:
the time period of music you most want to play and your own practical 21st Century needs: are you playing for fun or hoping for professional work?
Today's versatile professional traverso player needs to be well-equipped with a suitable instrument or range of instruments. It's quite typical for period flute orchestral players to need to understand the music and use the fingering systems covering flutes from the 17th-19th Centuries.
These are my personal choices and therefore recommendations:
To play orchestral music of early France and some of the earliest music written for the one keyed traverso in Germany (e.g. some J.S. Bach sonatas) I play a Jacob Denner model c. 1720 in Ebony (copy by F. Aurin). This is an instrument that has a pair of corps de rechange (alternative middle joints in varying pitches). One is in A=392 and the other at A=415. A=392 is a sonorous deep pitch which I find is very satisfying and practical to play the music from above. Another excellent model which plays well at A=392 as well as A=415 is the I. H. Rottenburgh c. 1740, of which I have a gorgeous copy by R. Tutz.
For smaller ensemble work and solo suites I enjoy the Hotteterre model flute for playing the earliest of the one-keyed flute French repertoire, with it's rich lower register and sweet middle register. My instrument is made by Rod Cameron.
For Venetian music (primarily Vivaldi) in the A=440 pitch, and for teaching modern flute students I use my Giuseppe Castel c. 1730 model in boxwood (copy by F. Aurin). In this pitch the music feels bright and clean and matches the gut string tone colour in 440. This is also a useful instrument to teach with modern flute players and students that are transitioning to baroque flute in A=440 pitch.
A mid-century model that I like also very much is the Carlo Palanca in grenadilla (copy by M. Wenner). This has a larger, more oval embouchure and is capable of a larger sound in orchestral and concerto settings. It is a good 'all round' baroque instrument and plays earlier as well as galant repertoire with ease, including mid -century concertos. It is pitched at A=415.
A useful instrument for galant and Classical music in A=430 is the A. Grenser model c. 1790 (sounds very sweet in natural boxwood- copy by M. Wenner). It is warm and large enough also to play flute quartets (e.g. Mozart flute quartets), concertos by C.P.E. Bach and even some orchestral repertoire by Haydn and Mozart.
The main orchestral instrument I use for Mozart and Haydn symphonies up until Schubert and for later flute quartets is the 8 keyed H. Grenser model c.1810 in grenadilla (copy by R. Tutz). It is flexible enough to sound good with forked 'baroque fingerings' and also stronger, evenly-coloured fingerings with the help of the keys. It is responsive and carries well above an orchestra. It is pitched at A=430.
The latest model flute I have found to be enjoyable and flexible is the W. Liebel 9-keyed flute c.1830 in grenadilla (copy by F.Aurin). With its metal-lined head joint it has the potential to make a very large orchestral sound yet also offers hundreds of special fingering choices to create huge dynamic and colour differences. With it's tuning slide, it can tune from A=430-445. I have played this flute for two quite different recordings: in 2016 a live recording of Paganini's violin concerto with period instrument orchestra with Shunske Sato and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and modern day chamber arrangements of Beethoven Piano Concerto 1 and 3 with Dr. Neal Peres da Costa and Australian Haydn Ensemble, for fortepiano, flute, bass and string quintet. In this small combination the flute is employed both as a wind colour and a blending timbre to the strings at times and as the Liebel model is very flexible and full of sonorities, it makes a good contribution to the ensemble timbres. See the Discography for details of these recordings.
To repeat myself, there are SO many other models of flutes available in replica form by excellent makers. I wish I could try them all, until then I can only recommend what I know.
Good luck with your journey of fluting!