8901 - 1-key conical flute by Eugene Crijnen after G.A. Rottenburgh
Flautists are as susceptible as any other musicians (perhaps more so) to fads and fashions, so it was entirely predictable that, having established itself as something of a norm among baroque flute players in the 1980s and 90s as a result of the influence of Bart Kuijken’s playing, copies of his G.A. Rottenburgh instrument would be dismissed as ‘too late’ or ‘insufficiently baroque’ by the next generation of historical flute players. It may well be late, but it’s a superb instrument, and this particular copy, by Eugene Crijnen, is really special. Makers who are also good players seem able to instil their instruments with something extra, and Eugene’s instruments were always remarkable playing instruments. This one was particularly so, as he made it for himself and his then partner, from a beautiful piece of flamed boxwood, and I badgered him for years to sell me it. Each time we met we’d play duets - as often blues or jazz as Telemann or Boismortier - and he would attempt to sell me another of his Rottenburgh copies. Eventually I think he realised I wasn’t going to stop asking, so one year after the early instrument exhibition at the Royal College of Music he told me I could have it. It was like giving a child a Ferrari. It can do anything I can conceive of way faster and more fluently than I can. (I experienced a similar feeling that any limitations were simply ‘in me’ when I first played a handmade Lowden guitar). After this Eugene and I kept on playing occasional duets, and he increased the range of flutes he had available, moving to an impossibly grand property in France. We lost touch for a while until, out of the blue, he offered me a copy of a Thomas Lot flute (0811) for an unreasonably small amount of money. I wish I had listened more carefully to what he said when he was alive.
Eugene Crijnen 1962-2016