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Jouers de Flute – Krishna

by Albert Roussel

Eileen Gilligan Flute and Alex Raineri Piano – Jouers de Flute – Krishna

I love this piece , the third in the Jouers de Flute (the flute players) dedicated to Louis Fleury. Louis Fleury was an important part and contributor to the French School of flute playing. He has had a few pieces dedicated to him including Syrinx by Claude Debussy. I haven’t had the privilege of hearing one of his recordings if there are any, but the one thing the French School of the time had in common was beautiful tone and colour. They were full of expression.


Gaubert playing Saint Saens.




Rene le Roy . Handel.






Marcel Moyse. The other side of Moyse and his gifts.

Krishna is an absolute joy to play, but it is intricate and quite difficult. Roussel travelled to India and Indochina in 1910 which heavily influenced his musical style. This is so apparent in this piece. The opportunity to tell a story , use colours and contrasts is awesome , one of the best I would say. As always with Roussel the piano part is a composition in its own right and the intricate way it blends with the flute is stunning. Roussel had a strong interest in mathematics as well which reflects here in the compositional style.

Who was Krishna? Krishna is a supreme god in the Hindu religion and is the god of compassion, protection , tenderness and love. They are all feelings present in this piece , very important for interpretation.

Krishna is the most important of the ten incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu. He is often shown with his characteristic flute, a symbol of his time spent as a cowherd. When he played his flute, the animals around would stand still and worship him.

The steps to learning and interpreting this piece for me are:

  1. Get the score and a backtrack and really nut out the flute part and what it is saying musically and also how it fits with the piano part. It is tricky at times, especially for someone like me who likes a bit of space is my expression. Finding the musical balance is hard. After this section is a great video from Just Flutes which will really help the learner with working out what’s going on.
  2. Now the player knows what is technically happening , think about who it is dedicated to , Fleury from the French School, and Krishna for the title. Think about the story , the form of the piece and what it is saying musically . How best can we as the interpreter portray the composers wishes. Every performance of this is different which is excellent , they are all individual stories. Mine is no different , it is my interpretation of everything I have spoken about.
  3. Colours, so important here to have them at your finger tips and use them. Do lots of whole tone and pentatonic slow scale work finding your way in a slurred fashion around the intervals musically. Cant beat slow lyrical practice. The opening relies solely on this exotic , mysterious feeling .Vocalisations are the best for colours as well and I have recorded stacks of them. Melodies are awesome , the more the merrier. When the player learns to use their voice and a vocal style, colours just come naturally through the shape of the mouth and from internal musical expression. This piece will fall flat without colour and contrasts . The lead into the recap is a prime example of use of colours and I took it with both hands to get the submerged under water feeling and tonal colour that seems to be present in Pan also.
    4. It goes without saying that none of this is possible without the basics being undercontrol so the Foundation Tools section needs to be controlled by the player. Without this flexability and control ,life will be pretty hard in this piece . I am starting a blog on tone as for me it is really the most important aspect of playing .It is the tool we use to communicate with the listener and the tool we portray the composers wishes with so it doesnt matter how fast the fingers fly if the tone is not beautiful and expressive. Rampals quote” anyone can do the fingers, the tone, it is not so easy” and it is very true. It is not so easy. Mine is developing all the time and it takes work and an understanding of what makes up the fundamentals of a beautiful sound.

In the end the player will have their own story to tell . The secret is to tell it convincingly so a deep thought process and understanding will really help this.

Here is a great video from Just Flutes which will really help the learner with working out what’s going on.

This is a very brief cover off on Roussel. Plenty of other information out there and I encourage self exploration for knowledge, can’t beat it.

Wiki link to info about Krishna. Knowledge will help your performance and interpretation..

Symphony No 4, very useful link as you can see the score so helps with the understanding  and also getting used to looking at scores for the story and interpretation. You can see the intricate way everything fits together , fascinating. He was influenced by D’Indy, Debussy ,Ravel and Stravinsky. Interesting to see the melodic lyricism combine with these influences.

Symphony No 1 -Le Poeme de la Foret. Same scoring provided, very useful.

Chamber music selection. Enjoy.

Symphony No 1 -Le Poeme de la Foret. Same scoring provided, very useful.