Best arrangement of "Clair de Lune" by Debussy?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by jobriant, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. jobriant

    jobriant Active Member

    Gilroy, CA, USA
    I see from several online sheet music retailer websites that there are several Brass Band arrangements of "Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy. May I have your recommendations, please, about any particular ones that may be the best, or any particular ones to avoid?

    Thank you in advance for your opinions!

    Jim O'Briant
    Music Director / Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band (Salinas, California, USA)
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I remember playing from a photocopied manuscript version of one more than 20 years ago... Think it was by Roy Huckridge? Don't remember it being especially musically convincing, but it's been a long time.

    It's hard to see how it would transfer very well for brass sounds in general - it's so dependent on piano attributes - rippling quiet arpeggios with sustain pedal, rapid but not total decay of overtones to leave a shimmering musical backlighting. Writing out the arpeggios would make it extremely difficult for brass group; taking them out (the option opted for by the arrangement I played, as I recall) would make the passages in question lose their whole meaning.
  3. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    William Relton made a version for piano and band. Goff Richards and Derek Ashmore also made brass only arrangements. Interestingly, Clair de Lune has also been arranged for orchestra. Presumably, similar difficulties would be encountered in arrangement, albeit from a different perspective.

    Can an argument be made for making an arrangement that features the core melody and other aspects of the original, but "arranging" it, or scoring it in a manner that Debussy might have done if he was writing the same piece for orchestra or brass band?

    I have an old recording by Men O' Brass of the Rachmaninoff Prelude in C Sharp Minor. I love it on the piano and have several recordings, but that old brass arrangement introduced me to this piece many years ago and I still get a lot of enjoyment out of listening to the brass arrangement.
  4. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    The Sunny Isle of Wight
    To my mind that is the difference between an "Arrangement" and a "Transcription".
    Too often an Arranger tries to Transcribe and stick too rigidly to what was originally written.
    The wonderful Saint-Saens Variations supports your argument very well, a superb piece of brass band writing which coveys all the spirit of the original composition.
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