The art of transcription begins with picking the right piece! I made the transcription many years ago (in 1979) because I loved the piece so much, and it was surely inspired by Spain and the guitar. But I was unable to do much with it at the time because of copyright constraints. However, I recently came across the subsequently published transcriptions by Carles Trepat and Charles Postlewate. All three transcriptions have much in common in their handling of the easy parts of the piece, but the three of us have handled the difficult parts very differently. Carles Trepat's beautiful edition has has prioritised delicacy of sound over rigorous adherence to the piano text; Charles Postlewate's version, published in his volume "Homage to Villa-Lobos", champions a RH technique using all five digits, as did Villa-Lobos, whereas I have spotted some opportunities afforded by some slightly unorthodox fingering to keep exceptionally close to Debussy's text. In my view there is room for all three transcriptions and different players will choose their own favourites. My version has been well received by Giacomo Susani, the only concert player I have so far shown it to.
This SECOND EDITION corrects six errors in the First Edition. Measure 2 – The D is corrected to D#; Measure 38 – An erroneous # has been removed from C of the last chord; Measure 39 –The first F now has a cautionary #; Measure 57 – The erroneous # on the high E has been removed; Measures 68 – 69 The F sharps are now tied across the bar line; Measure 84 – The low B# in the first beat has been corrected to read G#. Though we corrected each of these as they came to light, we now offer players a ‘clean’ version of the text. I am immensely grateful to Bernhard Heimann for his patient and meticulous engraving, and to Christine Heimann for her elegant artwork on the title page.
We have also taken the opportunity to update the file to ensure that every one of Debussy's numerous expression marks are now carried over into the guitar version. There is a convention that notes bearing an accidental which are tied across bar lines do not need the accidental repeated. Most but not all composers and engravers now follow this convention. Debussy (or his engraver) mostly followed the convention, but was inconsistent. I had checked my text against the piano score, and simply perpetuated the inconsistencies. Bernhard Heimann has kindly alerted me to this matter, and we have agreed to follow the convention throughout the piece, but there is nothing for players to unlearn here.
SOME PERFORMANCE NOTES. The complexity of the notation is initially offputting, but the piece becomes much easier to play when you appreciate the logic of what I have done. When you encounter an unorthodox fingering, and try to find a better alternative, you will find there isn't one – at least, not one that preserves the advantages – such as they are – of what I have chosen to do.
Technical anchors are important in guitar music. The position and the barré are the two traditional ones, but there is also the glide, much used by Tarrega and Llobet. It is difficult to jump quickly and smoothly from one end of the fingerboard to the other, but in slow pieces there is the option of the glide, and I have fingered this piece to contrive to place the third finger on the B sharps in bars 12 to 14 and in bar 74, for such glides, and I regard maintaining the third finger in place on the B sharps at the end of measures 13 and 14 as important, even though it necessitates a large stretch to the adjacent C sharps.
I offer the ossia measure 58 which is closer to Debussy in that it restores a missing note - his B flat - some players will find the open G in my preferred version difficult to play cleanly, and that is why I offered the ossia.
The use of the left hand thumb is achieving scattered but widespread usage, as a matter of common sense when it solves a problem. For example, I have observered both Fabio Zanon and Daniela Rossi use it in (different) Scarlatti pieces. It seems a natural solution in bar 74, and would be required irrespective of my penchant for the concurrent LH 3rd finger glide.
ADDENDUM 29th November The pdf has been replaced today, simply to clarify the footnote on page one, documenting the history of the submission.
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Last edited by John Kemp on Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.