Clair de Lune from 'Suite bergamasque'
Composed by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Arranged for two antiphonal flute choirs (19 players) by Tom Kennedy
Published by Alry Publications
Includes score and parts
Flute 1 (2 players), Flute 2 (2 players doubling piccs), Flute 3 (2 players), Flute 4 (2 players), Flute 5 (2 players), Alto Flute (or Flute 6), Bass Flute (or Alto flute 2)
Flutes 1-6 (1 player each), Alto Flute (or Flute 7)
Harp or Piano
2 Contrabass flutes (or Bassoons or Cellos)
Clair de Lune (“moonlight”) is the third movement of the “Suite bergamasque” for piano. This suite was written by Debussy in 1890 and was revised in 1905. The title “Suite bergamasque” probably comes from a line in the poem Clair de lune by Paul Verlaine: “…masques et bergamasques.” This arrangement was conceived for two antiphonal flute choirs. The two groups should be placed so that the audience can enjoy the full effect of their “conversation.” For the first performance of this arrangement, Choir 1 was on stage, while Choir 2 played from the front row of the balcony. The audience on the main floor was surrounded by sound. If the performance hall is large enough, the problem of time delay may be encountered. In this case, remind the players that they must always follow the conductor rather than the sounds coming from the other choir.
Another option would be to place both choirs on opposite sides of the stage, with the harp, bass, and conductor in the middle. Ideal performance of this arrangement requires two alto flutes and a bass flute. However, alternate parts have been provided for these instruments. It is also possible to play the bass flute part on C flute, taking all possible pitches down an octave.
The contrabass fltue part can be performed by either two contrabass flutes, two cellos, or two bassoons. If only one player is available, the lower ntoes are preferred. The harp part can be covered by either one or two players. If no harp is available, the part can be played on the piano. When conducting this work, beat the dotted quarter to keep the eighth notes flowing, but never rushed. Be very careful to maintain rhythmic integrity when switching between duples and triples. The pyramid figures in measures 55-58 and 69-70 should first be practiced slowly, counting eighth notes.