May was a fantastic month for the cello ensemble at Ovation Press as we had the opportunity to publish a number of truly innovative and exciting arrangements for celli.
As we continue to expand the catalog of music available for this less-often heard arrangement of instruments, we were excited to mark the start of June early this week with a special collaborative score. Charles Jacot – who brought us the first of last month’s scores when he published his arrangements of Renaissance composer Josquin – has edited Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl With the Flaxen Hair) arranged by another one of our editors: Stephen Watkins.
Hear Debussy’s famous piano work fabulously arranged for cello quartet, imbued with the style of two of our finest editors!
The Girl with the Flaxen Hair is the eighth piece from Debussy’s Préludes, Book I. It is one of the most popular of Debussy’s pieces, both in its original version and in numerous arrangements. The prelude is only 39 bars long and lasts about two minutes, making it an ideal encore.
The original key is G-flat major; here in the arrangement for cello quartet it has been transposed to G major. This circumvents some problems by providing opportunities for open strings and natural harmonics to solve voicing issues. Though the piece sounds simple, fitting it into just four cello voices is a challenge at times, and there are some unusual double stops, some involving harmonics, which help to fill out the harmonies. Debussy’s harmonies in this piece are lush and warm, and the frequent double stops in the inner and lower voice create the impression of more than just 4 cellos playing. With the exception of the final statement of the theme (which is down an octave), the voicing has been kept as close to the original as possible.Girl with the Flaxen Hair, for Cello Quartet
About the Arranger – Stephen Watkins
Stephen Watkins attended the Guidhall School of Music in London where he studied, of all things, trombone and piano. You might be wondering how he came to be writing music for cello. Mr. Watkins’ real interest at the Guidhall School was in composition, where he benefited from the tuition of very diverse professors. However, upon leaving the school, he entered the profession of music education, involved in classroom and instrumental teaching. When Watkins was in his mid-forties, he came to a crossroads in life, encountering a medical situation that ruled out playing brass at the professional level. After some soul-searching, Mr. Watkins changed his primary instrument to the cello.
Stephen Watkins has composed and arranged numerous works that have been published by houses in the US, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. His output includes works for brass, recorders, and strings.
About the Editor – Charles Jacot
Charles Jacot currently resides in Seattle, where he is a member of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and a frequent sub for both the Seattle Opera and Seattle Symphony, with whom he has participated in several recordings in the past decade.
Originally from the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, Charles studied there with Chicago Symphony members Alois Trnka and CSO Principal, Frank Miller. He found a passion for playing orchestral music there, hearing many CSO performances during the Solti years and playing several seasons in the Chicago Civic Orchestra. After meeting Hans Jorgen Jensen at the A.F. of M’s Congress of Strings summer program, Charles went to study with him at the University of Houston, earning a Bachelor of Music degree and graduating summa cum laude. Charles later earned his Masters degree at the Juilliard School where he studied with Harvey Shapiro.
More recently released scores for cello ensemble:
- Hans Erik Deckert original Canzona for 12 Celli and arrangement of Gabrieli’s Canzone e Sonate 1615 for 22 Celli
- Valter Dešpalj transcriptions of Leoncavallo’s Serenade for Cello and Guitar and Johann Strauss Sr.’s Jellacic March for Cello Quartet
- Charles Jacot arrangements of three works from Renaissance master Josquin – El Grillo and Mille Regretz (both for Cello Quartet), and La déploration de la mort de Johannes Ockeghem, arranged for Cello Quintet
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