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I must admit that I was initially skeptical about a traverso not strictly based on historical models. Like most musicians who play period instruments, I was conditioned to believe that only a faithful copy of an eighteenth-century original could do full justice to the music of Bach, Mozart, and their contemporaries. Yet I had always been slightly uncomfortable with the idea of playing such copies in modern spaces and in performing contexts very different from those of the past. Many of us have had the experience of playing in cavernous spaces with unflattering acoustics, or with a large number of string instruments that can easily drown out softer winds.

Enter the “modern traverso,” which strikes me as the ideal compromise between old and new. Old, because it has the playing characteristics of an excellent eighteenth-century instrument; new, because it is an original design that provides the volume of sound one often needs for modern playing conditions. And when you think about it, the idea of a modern instrument maker putting his experience to use in creating a new model is entirely appropriate, for this is what Bressan, Denner, Grenser and others did in the eighteenth century.

After receiving my modern traverso, I quickly got used to the slightly different feel of the instrument, and was delighted by the rich tone and flexible response in each register. One can indeed play more loudly on this instrument (even the fork-fingered notes are stronger), but one can also play very softly. And the intonation is as good or better than that of any historical copy I’ve played.

I have come to admire Jean-François Beaudin’s excellent craftsmanship, and it has been a delight working with him. His continual efforts to improve his design and tailor the instrument to his customer’s needs is something I’ve rarely encountered among instrument makers. In short, I highly recommend his modern traverso.

Testimonial by Stephen Zohn, professional traverso player, musicologist at
Temple University, Philadelphia, USA