Author Topic: Debussy’s Jeux  (Read 1491 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11678
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #40 on: April 27, 2019, 11:22:22 AM »
I feel rather excited because I've just heard a fabulous performance of Jeux, one that, at least while you're listening to it,  really makes you forget about all the others you've heard. Unfortunately it's not a commercial release, it's by Michael Gielen with RSO Stuttgart, from a concert on 25 February 1972. If anyone wants it they can PM me -- or if you can get it from symphonyshare, it's there. The sound is fine.

There is soon going to be a Michael Gielen Edition released by Naxos, but as far as I can see it includes no Jeux.

There was an old Gielen Edition series with a Jeux, and that's still available through amazon (ASIN: B001J03F1Q). I haven't heard it, and I don't know the date of the recording. I note that it lasts 17.48 while mine lasts 19,06

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Online Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11678
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #41 on: April 27, 2019, 11:23:33 AM »
I’ve never considered myself a part of the HIP parade, but Roth’s performance of Jeux is a pretty good one.

It's OK. I think it's harder than you suggest to really make it sound as well as it should, I don't really think Roth succeeds at that.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5697
  • Fernand Léger: Nature morte aux fruits
  • Location: "La Villa y Corte"
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #42 on: April 27, 2019, 11:59:17 AM »
Some comments on Jeux (and on recordings of the work)  by Andrew Clements for The Guardian (from 2001):

Quote
The poème dansé that is arguably Debussy's supreme achievement, and certainly his greatest orchestral work, was written in the astonishingly short period of three weeks in August 1912, though the premiere, danced by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, did not take place until the following May. Perhaps it was the very speed of composition that allowed Debussy's musical thoughts freer than usual rein, and gave an intuitive shape to the piece that came to closer than ever before to the ideal of free musical association to which so much of his mature music aspires.

Even an "impressionist" masterpiece such as La Mer has a strong symphonic framework to bolster its evocative imagery, but Jeux is sustained on a web of tenuously connected ideas in which one motif seems to spawn the next, so that nothing ever returns in identical fashion. The scenario to which it was originally danced seems almost irrelevant nowadays. "There is a park, a tennis court; there is a chance meeting of two girls and a young man seeking a lost ball; a nocturnal landscape, and a suggestion of something sinister in the darkening shadows" - that was how Debussy described it in a letter to the Paris newspaper Le Matin. But it was the fact that the score seem to score defy rigorous analysis that raised into a modernist icon for the post-Webern generation of serialists, who pored over the subtle interrelations of its themes and the ambiguity of its overall form, clothed in ever-changing orchestral colours.

Jeux has never been as popular in the concert hall and on disc as La Mer and Debussy's orchestral Images - partly, I suspect, because it sets orchestras and conductors such problems of balance, phrasing and continuity. Some of the recorded performances show the difficulties all too clearly - Yan Pascal Tortelier's version (Chandos) is not played precisely enough, while Jean Martinon's (EMI) is overblown and Charles Dutoit's (Decca) too matter-of-fact; even Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony can't resist self-consciously drawing out some of the score's melodies in a piece where suggestion and understatement are everything.

The two conductors who get it right could hardly be more different. Bernard Haitink's old Philips performance with the Concertgebouw Orchestra is a marvel of precision and colour, and reissued in a mid-price two-disc survey of Debussy's orchestral music it is a marvellous bargain. But the more recent of Pierre Boulez's two versions, with the Cleveland Orchestra, is as near definitive as could be imagined in such an elusive work. All its details are perfectly realised, and Boulez weaves delicately coloured webs of connections between all the constituents.

· Key Recording: Boulez (Deutsche Grammophon)
Ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« Et avec le fer de sa houe il cassa la glace
De la source ou jadis riaient les naïades... »

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 46454
  • Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    ...Mist floating above the water...
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #43 on: April 27, 2019, 01:27:02 PM »
I feel rather excited because I've just heard a fabulous performance of Jeux, one that, at least while you're listening to it,  really makes you forget about all the others you've heard. Unfortunately it's not a commercial release, it's by Michael Gielen with RSO Stuttgart, from a concert on 25 February 1972. If anyone wants it they can PM me -- or if you can get it from symphonyshare, it's there. The sound is fine.

There is soon going to be a Michael Gielen Edition released by Naxos, but as far as I can see it includes no Jeux.

There was an old Gielen Edition series with a Jeux, and that's still available through amazon (ASIN: B001J03F1Q). I haven't heard it, and I don't know the date of the recording. I note that it lasts 17.48 while mine lasts 19,06



I imagine Gielen doing quite well in Jeux. It seems right up his alley with the subtle, shifting tempi and array of colors the work presents.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline SimonNZ

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5977
  • Location: Christchurch, NZ
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #44 on: April 27, 2019, 02:47:44 PM »
Music that drifts like dreams, and plunges like desire.

An excellent way of putting it - much better than "fragmentary" or whatever.

Though I don't play it often I like and admire the work. I was introduced to Debussy in mt teens by a friend who claimed D. as his favorite composer and Jeux as hus favorite work. At the time I found it opaque and overwhelming, but not so now. He had the Haitink recording, which is the one I later acquired, and am playing now,

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 51407
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #45 on: April 27, 2019, 04:47:29 PM »
Listened to it many times, never thought much of it, probably my least favorite Debussy work but somehow finds its way into almost Debussy CD I have. About 15 minutes longer than it really ought to be in my view. The "plot" if you can call it that certainly doesn't help, whether it is about kids chasing tennis balls something else.

Mentally "lose" the tennis balls, then; let it be about the journey and not the destination.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 51407
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #46 on: April 27, 2019, 04:49:27 PM »
The whole idea is to open new ones.  >:D

I want to party with you!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 46454
  • Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    ...Mist floating above the water...
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #47 on: April 27, 2019, 05:03:03 PM »
An excellent way of putting it - much better than "fragmentary" or whatever.

Though I don't play it often I like and admire the work. I was introduced to Debussy in mt teens by a friend who claimed D. as his favorite composer and Jeux as hus favorite work. At the time I found it opaque and overwhelming, but not so now. He had the Haitink recording, which is the one I later acquired, and am playing now,

Have your thoughts changed on it since then? What did you think of the Haitink performance? By the way, your friend sounds cool. Anyone who is a Debussy fanatic like I am is a friend of mine. 8)
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline springrite

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6265
  • Location: Flying all over the place
  • Currently Listening to:
    Lots of Bach, Brian, Mahler, Rubbra, Beethoven and Buddhist chants
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #48 on: April 27, 2019, 05:05:42 PM »
I want to party with you!
We will one day!
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 51407
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #49 on: April 27, 2019, 05:52:04 PM »
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Online Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11678
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #50 on: April 28, 2019, 03:28:35 AM »
Here's my translation (very bad, very quick) of a letter which Boulez wrote to Stockhausen  -- this is what got me interested in Jeux years ago, when I was investigating Pli selon pli.

Quote
In my opinion I believe that the last artcle you sent me signifies something which is for me very important: the desire for a non-homogeneous development period [temps de développement], while on the other hand you're keen above all else on a unified development period. I believe that the big new thing that music needs is that the unity [temps unitaire] is pulverised. You called this the French way of thinking. But I believe that in saying that you're passing over the important problem. For God's sake, reread Joyce and Mallarmé's Un coup de dés, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about, which has nothing to do with either Spring or Summer or whatever season. Are you familiar with Rambaud (Saison en Enfer)? You'll see just as well there what I meant by "a new dimension to the work." Same for Cézanne, more important on many points than Klee (same Debussy-Webern) Fundamentally the poetic inheritance Cézanne -- Mallarmé -- Debussy is still with us . That's not been well understood yet. Cubism was just a renaissance of Cézanne, after Mallarmé they've [on] just battled against procociousness, like in the light-weight Appolinaire.  After Debussy, they've only wanted "french classicism" You know that I loathe everything that's involved in French Tradition and what you can see in Cézanne, Mallarmé and Debussy isn't just most obsolete aspects of their work, very fortunately they go way beyond that.

So I have trouble believing that having studied Jeux closely, you haven't yet seen this non-homogenious development period, his formal experiments proceding by characteristics and not by schematisation. . .
« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 03:33:11 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 46454
  • Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    ...Mist floating above the water...
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #51 on: April 28, 2019, 05:56:52 AM »
Interesting read, Mandryka.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

PerfectWagnerite

  • Guest
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #52 on: April 28, 2019, 06:48:46 AM »
Interesting read, Mandryka.
I have no idea what that little exerpt means.

But I think this is an interesting take by Boulez on Jeux:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_m788t0VXY&t=301s

I like how he says Jeux "isn't a striking piece" at around the 14s mark.


Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 46454
  • Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    ...Mist floating above the water...
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #53 on: April 28, 2019, 06:57:25 AM »
I have no idea what that little exerpt means.

But I think this is an interesting take by Boulez on Jeux:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_m788t0VXY&t=301s

I like how he says Jeux "isn't a striking piece" at around the 14s mark.

I take what most conductors say about music with a grain of salt. If it wasn’t ‘a striking piece’, he wouldn’t have gushed over it for years and performed it. He liked the work a lot. Boulez’s personality has always been quite perplexing to me.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 07:05:51 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Online Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11678
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #54 on: April 28, 2019, 07:39:39 AM »


I like how he says Jeux "isn't a striking piece" at around the 14s mark.

He doesn't say that it isn't striking, he says it's a work which is not very "démonstrative" -- i.e. it's not ostentatious.


I have no idea what that little exerpt means.


I'll be able to explain it later, hopefully.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 07:41:35 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline SimonNZ

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5977
  • Location: Christchurch, NZ
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #55 on: April 28, 2019, 03:17:05 PM »
Have your thoughts changed on it since then? What did you think of the Haitink performance? By the way, your friend sounds cool. Anyone who is a Debussy fanatic like I am is a friend of mine. 8)

The Haitink recording, to my ears, makes the piece structurally logical, all cut from the same cloth and the perfect length - I don't hear the "fragmentary" thing in it that others have complained about, which is perhaps why I've never gone looking for another recording and can't say how it compares.

My friend was a huge jazz fan with an enormous collection (including every ECM release up to that time arranged by catalogue number) and having him throw random things on the turntable was a real education when I was in my teens. Debussy and Ravel were his favorite composers not because they used early jazz in their music, but because of the influence their non-jazz works had on later jazz, which he would constantly point out.

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 46454
  • Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    ...Mist floating above the water...
Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #56 on: April 28, 2019, 04:13:38 PM »
The Haitink recording, to my ears, makes the piece structurally logical, all cut from the same cloth and the perfect length - I don't hear the "fragmentary" thing in it that others have complained about, which is perhaps why I've never gone looking for another recording and can't say how it compares.

My friend was a huge jazz fan with an enormous collection (including every ECM release up to that time arranged by catalogue number) and having him throw random things on the turntable was a real education when I was in my teens. Debussy and Ravel were his favorite composers not because they used early jazz in their music, but because of the influence their non-jazz works had on later jazz, which he would constantly point out.

There’s an arch created in Jeux. I don’t think of it as fragmentary either. The direction of the work is actually well-laid out and if you listen to the work enough times, you begin to hear the structure unfold. For me, it is Debussy’s most bizarre yet alluring orchestral work.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy