Debussy Nuages et Fêtes from Nocturnes

Posted In: Repertoire

  • Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #209818

    Dear harp hive: At rehearsal 7 in Nuages by Debussy, the harp part is written on the top of the treble staff. Yet it has a marking 8bassa above it, which indicates that it should be played an octave below that. Why would he not just write it in the middle of the staff where it is to be played? Did he mean to double the part an octave below? I listened to recordings where it sounds like that is how people are playing it. It doubles a flute melody. Also, since it is in sharps, I transcribed it to flats for tuning purposes. Do you think Debussy knew it would sound a bit thinner and more out of tune using the sharps, and preferred it that way?
    Just a note: at 17 in Fêtes, if you use F and C flat instead of the B and E naturals in the third beat, you can do those chords without having to jump at all, making it easier to keep up with the tempo of about 184. Also, at reh. 10, in the second harp cue, it should be bass clefs in both hands. My part has a wrong treble clef there. The chords before 14 are less of a stretch if you use an A flat instead of the G# at the bottom.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #209822

    Elizabeth- I just checked, and you can go on the Biblioteque Nationale de France web site(National library of France) and see the manuscript. Why don’t you look there and see what he wrote.

    It’s very easy. Start by googling National Library of France(BnF). Then click on COLLECTIONS AND SERVICES(It’s all in English by the way). In the COLLECTIONS AND SERVICES menu, go to DIGITAL LIBRARIES – GALLICA and click on ACCESS TO GALLICA DIGITAL LIBRARY.Up at the top of the page where it says TOUT GALLICA and there is a box that says Rechercher, type in Nuages Debussy. The first item that comes up says POUR GEORGES HARTMANN. Click on that. That’s the manuscript of the entire Nuages in Debussy’s own hand.

    It will take you a while to figure out where the part you are looking for is. There are of course no rehearsal numbers. This particular manuscript is NOT the engraver’s manuscript, from which all of the parts and the full score were engraved. We know that because it(the manuscript) is completely clean and not marked up in pencil by the head engraver as he planned out how to engrave everything. So just like my research on the Sonate, there may be discrepancies between your part and the harp part in this manuscript. But it would be interesting to see. If you look down this list some more, you may find the engraver’s manuscript. Good luck!!

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #209824

    Thanks! This is excellent!

    Participant
    MusikFind1 on #209842

    Debussy: Trois Nocturnes ( L 91 )
    (Original version, 1899) From the 2005 corrected publication preface:
    This chart is a listing of major differences between the 1900 printed score and the 1900 printed parts. All mention of “score and parts” refer to the composition originally written in 1897 – 1899 and published in 1900 – 1901. The 2005 publication takes into account all of Debussy’s corrections which are in the public domain (i.e. all of the changes up to but not including the 1930 revised edition).

    The fair copy of the orginial manuscript at BnF is not the engraving copy. Debussy must have made changes when proofing, as the printed Durand score has different notation in some measures.

    Chart snip for the Harp questions:

    Mvt. 1, Reh. 7, meas. 1; In Debussy’s manuscript score, the Flute and Harp play in unison.

    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b550010431.r=Debussy%20Nocturnes?rk=171674;4

    http://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/0/05/IMSLP410848-PMLP04968-Nocturnes.pdf

    Original printed Score: no 8ba is notated. Part: An 8ba is notated to Reh. 8 meas. 3.
    The 8ba is also printed in the revised edition score.
    This passage is traditionally played in flats, an octave lower than the Flute, as indicated by the flat pedal markings in the original print score.
    The 2005 edition part has the music printed as an “ossia” in flats at the pitch starting on 2nd line Gb (Gb4).

    Mvt. 1, Reh. 8, meas. 1. In Debussy’s manuscript score, the Flute and Harp continue to play in unison.
    There are no harmonics notated.
    In the printed score of the original edition the harmonics are notated to be played an octave lower that written. The first sounding pitch is Eb treble clef 1st line (Eb4), still an octave below the Flute D#(D#4). (The pitches showing are the actual sounding pitches.)
    In the revised printed score, there are harmonics but the 8ba is missing.

    Mvt. 3, Reh. 4, meas.1; For the gliss at measure 7. Score: accrochez (set) for descending gliss. en remontant (re-ascending) for ascending gliss. Part: en descendant and en mountant.
    Set: D#, Cb, Bnat | Eb, Fnat, G#, Ab. Change to E# and Db to ascend and back to Eb and D# to descend.
    Mvt. 3, Reh. 4, meas. 8, beat 4; Manuscript score and Part: written as a repeat sign which would indicate that an ascending gliss line continues on beat 4 exactly like measure 3. | [Muffle]
    Original Printed Score: the gliss. is missing at Reh. 4, meas. 8, beat 4

    Mvt. 3, Reh. 10, meas. 1 to 8; The manuscript score has mf for measure 1, then repeat signs.
    The original print score has dynamics that match the other instruments. mf on beat 1. p on beat 3. | measure 2 p for the whole measure. | Measure 3 mf on beat 1. p on beat 3. | Measure 4 p sempre to measure 8.
    [The Eulenburg revised edition score is missing the Measure 3 mf on beat 1. p on beat 3]

    Debussy’s Nocturnes revised edition, not published until 1930, has a different orchestration, especially in the harps and chorus part. Combining the original and revised editions will STOP a rehearsal.
    [If a conductor tries to use the Jobert 1930/1964 score, suggest hiring another conductor, as those parts do not match that score at all.]

    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k11621535/f18.image.r=Debussy%20Nocturnes

    http://imslp.eu/linkhandler.php?path=/imglnks/euimg/5/53/IMSLP419438-SIBLEY1802.30697.b039-39087009438930score.pdf
    The revised corrected Herlin edition score is for sale $183.00, the parts on rental from Durand/Boosey.

    Corrected original 1899 publication score and parts for sale:
    https://www.emsmusic.com/product_p/emsg20167.htm
    EMS284366 DEBUSSY, Claude (1862-1918) – Nocturnes (Nuages, Fetes, Sirenes) (original version,1899) (Nieweg). EDWIN F. KALMUS – extra harp 1 – A3070 $9.00
    EMS284367 DEBUSSY, Claude (1862-1918) – Nocturnes (Nuages, Fetes, Sirenes) (original version,1899) (Nieweg). EDWIN F. KALMUS – extra harp 2 – A3070 $9.00

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #209845

    Clinton- Did Debussy make the revised score? If so, why did it take 12 years after his death to get it printed? In general terms, what’s the difference between the original version and the revised score? Were there big changes? And what do most orchestras play today? The original or the revised versions?

    Participant
    MusikFind1 on #209890

    carl-swanson wrote:
    >>Clinton- Did Debussy make the revised score?

    The publisher Jobert claims the revised edition was made by Debussy.
    I have not been able to find that manuscript. Perhaps with your French connections you will come up with a source?

    >>If so, why did it take 12 years after his death to get it printed?

    No idea. Perhaps the preface to the Herlin corrected version of the 1930 would have some information.
    I cannot check as I am still trying to get my score back from an orchestra librarian. ☻

    >>In general terms, what’s the difference between the original version and the revised score? Were there big changes?

    There are enough orchestration changes that the original and the revised can not be performed together. The big changes are in the 3rd movement. I know, as a young guest conductor came to The Philadelphia Orchestra with the Jobert 1930/”corrected 1964″ score. https://www.emsmusic.com/product_p/ems149975.htm

    Many conductors and libraries bought that score as it was full size. No one realized the parts did not match.

    http://www.worldcat.org/title/nocturnes/oclc/56175985&referer=brief_results

    When told the original version parts were on the stands, he said that’s “OK”. The rehearsal soon stopped and we had to take a original score to him!

    Another time a guest conductor insisted that he wanted to use the Jobert revised score. We worked on matching those parts everyday for three months. At last had to give up, as the mistakes in both the score and parts were just too many. Also there are no choral parts for that publication.

    >>And what do most orchestras play today? The original or the revised versions?

    Most orchestra will perform from the corrected Kalmus edition ©2005 of the Fromont (later Jobert) original version.
    [There have been earlier Kalmus reprints that are not corrected and are now POP]
    https://www.emsmusic.com/product_p/emsg20167.htm
    Large Full score $70.00 set of parts $350.00
    https://www.emsmusic.com/product_p/ems333970.htm
    Octavo study score $26.95

    Buying and keeping a set for future performances is cheaper on the budget than renting the corrected revised Durand/ Boosey edition. The Denis Herlin is an excellent publication of the 1930 revised edition ©2000. I have only a two page chart of comments (created in 2012) about that publication. The parts are computer engraved–they look terrific, have mistakes corrected, etc. but they are on rental only.

    https://www.emsmusic.com/product_p/ems197901.htm
    Full Score $183.00 Orchestra parts on rental.

    We need to find the engravers copy of the original and the manuscript/engravers copy of the revised to solve this question.

    There has never been a good choral score with piano for the original, so I had one created.
    https://www.emsmusic.com/product_p/ems267115.htm
    [This does not fit with the revised edition choral score which are for sale, but have no piano accompaniment.]

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #210056

    Did you notice the dots over the notes? It says to me that the notes were meant to be harmonics, which means they double the flute at pitch, creating a marvelous ethereal effect, typical of Debussy. That is how Marilyn Costello played it in the Philadelphia Orchestra recordings, and I can’t imagine it any other way. It is a typical copyist’s mistake to either make circles so small they look like dots, or to misinterpret them. The ear must prevail. Recordings where the harp plays regular notes in either octave sound lousy by comparison. It’s a particularly messy part, badly copied. Durand Editions also have typical sorts of errors, like missing clef changes. Experience tells.

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