I just watched a youtube video of the second movement of the Debussy Trio Sonata and was surprised to see the harpist playing glisses rather than fast, light arpeggios at section 14.
It’s sometimes done like that, although I’m not crazy about it. I much prefer the fingered arpeggios. I believe that Renie even played it with glissandos! I’ll check with my friend Geraldine Ruegg, who studied with Renie and who translated Renie’s Methode into English. She’ll know for sure.
Some harpists do this in the Debussy Dances as well. I’m all for making a harp part “playable” if it is impossible, but these two spots are certainly playable and Debussy was well educated in harp. If had wanted a glissando, he would have written a glissando not an arpeggio.
to each his own!
Marguerite- I agree with you completely. But it must be remembered that both these parts were written for Chromatic harp, not pedal harp, and harmonic or scale glisses are just not possible on the chromatic harp. An argument could be made that Debussy did what he had to do for the chromatic harp. But to me there’s a distinct difference in the sound between a gliss and a fingered passage, and I much prefer the fingered passage in these two cases.
The first performance, a private concert a Durand’s, the publisher, was played by a chromatic harpist(I think her name was something like Suzanne Dalie), with Darius Milhaud playing viola. I don’t know who the flutist was. Debussy probably received a commission from Pleyel to write the trio sonata, but he clearly and loudly stated repeatedly that he wanted his music to be played on an Erard. He didn’t say pedal harp, he said Erard. That’s why, a few months later, when Debussy heard that a young wizbang harpist named Pierre Jamet was working on the piece, he asked that trio to play the work for him, and then asked them to perform it at a public concert that Debussy had organized for the French Red Cross.
It was my impression that Salzedo came up with the substitution of aeolian fluxes for the fingered pattern, not to make it easier, per se, but to modernize it, in a sense. Stokowski liked to do this in many orchestral works, turning arpeggios into glissandos, considering that a preferable effect. While the glissandi may seen easier, if you try to replicate the phrasing of the fingered pattern, they are not so easy. If Renie played with glissandi, I am curious when she did that, perhaps Salzedo got the idea from her or the other way around.
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players recording, with Ann Hobson Pilot playing, she uses the glissandi. Salzedo has other edits that are very helpful in making the harp part speak clearly.
I suspect that if Renie suggested the idea of a gliss for those fingered passages, she would be very very picky about how the gliss was played. It would have to be very even and precise so it almost sounded like the passage was fingered. it would not be a matter of just strumming the strings like in a Broadway show.
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