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Okay, so there was a thread mentioning this piece the other day, and it got me wondering. I own one version of it... not exactly sure which at the moment... I'm thinking Rousseau's. What are the differences in the different arrangements?
 

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I think there's one version which is much more technical than the original piece. It gives the saxophone a more interesting part to play. The other is the original, like it is. But I'm not very sure of that. It's something I remember from a masterclass with J.M. Londeix.
 

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I believe the original has no altissimo. It wasn't designed to be a piece that showed off the saxophone like a concerto, just one that featured the saxophone, which was of course still a rare instrument in the classical setting at the time. The only versions I've heard are by Kerkezos and Rascher, both of which were the original I believe.
 

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There are several different versions, all of them adding some of the orchestral parts into the saxophone part to make it more soloistic.

You should be able to figure out what version you have by the edition, names of anyone lurking around on the title page, anything. Can you give any more clues?
 

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Rascher did not play the original Debussy part, but one of the "realizations." I forget offhand which one though...

For those of you that have not heard the original Debussy part, you should look for it. There is one recording of it I believe. The part is pretty lame - it's basically a concerto in counting rests.
 

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As I recall, there are several recordings available of the original version (Durand edition).

Angel
 

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I'm really not qualified to answer, but as I understand it the original commission for Elise Hall had very little saxophone because she had a breathing disorder of some kind. I don't think that Debussy did the original orchestration (at least that's what the liner notes in John Harle's recording said), but you can hear that first version played by that guy on YouTube. I heard that Rousseau tried to restore what Debussy's original intentions for the piece were, and it adds in those scalar passages that go to altissimo Ab as well as the long forte notes among other things. I think that that version is only arranged for piano and saxophone. Both John Harle and Claude Delangle have arrangements for orchestra and piano respectively (I'm assuming here) that fleshes the saxophone part out yet more, adding the other technical lick that is tricky for an accompanist.

Hope this helps a little...
 

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As I understood it, Debussy didn't like this "aquatic instrument." So I'm going to go with the fact that he was forced to composed this piece by the rich saxophonist, Elise Hall
 

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Just clarifications for FuzzyKoala, who is apparently more qualified than he thinks.

fuzzykoala said:
Elise Hall... had a breathing disorder of some kind.
I agree with this, but there is a different account that has her afflicted with a hearing disorder. Most credible accounts suggest Elise Boyer Hall was diagnosed with a minor respiratory condition and suggested she take up the saxophone to improve her breathing.

fuzzykoala said:
I don't think that Debussy did the original orchestration...
His student Roger-Ducasse provided the finished orchestral version. Haven't heard from him since....

fuzzykoala said:
but you can hear that first version played by that guy on YouTube.
....Who happens to be Federico Mondelci.

fuzzykoala said:
Both John Harle and Claude Delangle have arrangements for orchestra and piano respectively (I'm assuming here) that fleshes the saxophone part out yet more, adding the other technical lick that is tricky for an accompanist.
Not sure about the ever-secretive John Harle, but Claude Delangle has recorded both the original version (Durand) with orchestra and an arrangement by Vincent David for saxo and piano.

Angel
 

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Dannel said:
As I understood it, Debussy didn't like this "aquatic instrument." So I'm going to go with the fact that he was forced to composed this piece by the rich saxophonist, Elise Hall
Well, I'm not sure he disliked the saxophone as much as he was ignorant as to its qualities. The letter that you are quoting proves as much.

And he wasn't forced. He was paid. He happened to eat the money and forget the job. She showed up on his doorstep one day (much to his surprise) and asked of the status of the piece, hence the afore-mentioned letter in haste to a colleague.

It strikes me that Debussy didn't put much effort into this piece. It's amazing, considering the quality of the work, that great composers are unable to write crappy music. Debussy's Rapsodie is quite beautiful and a joy to perform as well as experience from an audience's standpoint. Even the different versions with more saxo stuff are a delight.

Angel
 
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