FOR THE CURIOUS CELLIST

Debussy: The Girl With The Flaxen Hair: For Cello

Published in 1910 as the eighth piece of the collection of “Preludes” for piano by Claude Debussy (1862-1918), this beautiful miniature (“La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin”) has been transcribed for many different instrumental combinations. The transcription offered here, for cello with piano (or harp) accompaniment, is based on the excellent violin transcription by Arthur Hartmann. The violin’s doublestops in bars 21-23 have however been removed, and in the last gently rising scale (bar 35), the higher notes of the violin’s doublestops are now given to the piano.

This is a little love song, composed originally in an unpublished version in 1882 when Debussy was 20 and dedicated to a singer 13 years older than he. In the original solo-piano version, Debussy’s dynamics are extremely delicate and sensitive, never getting louder than a mezzo forte in bar 21, with all the other dynamics being either p’s, piu p’s or pp’s. In Hartmann’s transcription for violin, the violinist plays the entire piece with the mute. When playing it in the cello version, we may want to be more expansive.

Because this piece is so free, so transparent and so full of tender rubato, in the different cello versions (Clean, Edited and Easier), a parallel stave beneath the cello stave shows a simplified version of the accompaniment as a sort of cue line, so that we know always where we are (or where we should be) in relation to the accompaniment.

Edited Version     Clean Version      Easier Version     Piano Score

Here, below is a downloadable audio file of a play-along accompaniment, played by a harp. To be able to play this piece reliably with a pre-recorded accompaniment we will probably need to use the special, separate cello part, made for this purpose, which includes in the cue line the many additional notes that have been added to this accompaniment in order to give some extra rhythmic references for the cellist.

 Edited Version For Playing With Prerecorded Accompaniment