Debussy's ‘Sonate pour ensemble’ to be premiered at the Wiener Musikverein

On 4 November, 2019 the Ensemble Kontrapunkte, conducted by Peter Keuschnig, will open the programme with the world premiere of Claude Debussy's Sonata pour ensemble, arranged by Roland Freisitzer, at the Brahms-Saal of the Wiener Musikverein. 

‘The Cello Sonata by Claude Debussy is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and best chamber music works of the first half of the 20th century. The treatment of the cello and the piano surpasses the idea of "for cello with piano accompaniment" in that it is an interplay of chamber music between two absolutely equal musicians, even if only the cello may shine with cadenzas. During my time as a student, when we were allowed to orchestrate all kinds of pieces at the Moscow Conservatory in instrumentation lessons, I had a great desire to orchestrate this piece, but it did not happen at that time.

Asked by Peter Keuschnig for arrangements of French works of the 20th century for his Ensemble Kontrapunkte, I proposed the "Sonate pour violoncelle et piano" by Claude Debussy. It was clear to me from the outset that I did not want to make any instrumentation for violoncello with accompanying ensemble, simply because the piano has no accompanying function, as in Debussy's Violin Sonata, for example, where this conventional role is present.

With my instrumentation, I wanted to try to create a soundscape that would be as similar as possible to that which Claude Debussy would have heard in 2019. This meant also permitting combinations that would perhaps be anachronistic in the sense of having the most "authentic" instrumentation possible, yet with clear references. In addition, the role of the solo cello is of course not present. The solos of the cello are split up between the musicians, although the respective cellist will have some déjà vu experiences...

For this I have chosen the following cast: Flute (also piccolo), English horn, clarinet (also bass clarinet), saxophone (alto or tenor), bassoon (also contrabassoon), trumpet, trombone, tuba (the three brass players use mutes throughout), harp, percussion and string quintet (solo or multiple strings possible).’

Roland Freisitzer

 Photo © Elmar Mustafazadeh

Read the full score:

Sonate pour ensemble