Author Topic: Debussy’s Jeux  (Read 3690 times)

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Offline Biffo

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2019, 12:02:37 AM »
The whole idea is to open new ones.  >:D

It usually ends in tears (not mine).

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2019, 01:58:09 AM »
I, for one, think Jeux is nothing short of miraculous. Debussy at the top of his game...  The description by Barraqué that Mandryka quoted above is very accurate, I's say (I really should read Barraqué's book on Debussy!).

I own several performances on CD (Boulez, of course, but also the pioneering de Sabata, and many more), and it is Maderna's version with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra that made the strongest impression on me:
There's another Maderna recording with the ORTF which is also good, but not at the same level as the Berlin one IMO.

I’ve just found an affordable copy of the Berlin performance and ordered it, so you’d better be right!
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Offline ritter

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2019, 02:45:49 AM »
I’ve just found an affordable copy of the Berlin performance and ordered it, so you’d better be right!
Good thing it was affordable; had it been outrageously expensive, then I’d really be in trouble (in the unlikely event you don’t like it)... :D
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2019, 03:03:38 AM »
Good thing it was affordable; had it been outrageously expensive, then I’d really be in trouble (in the unlikely event you don’t like it)... :D

Discogs, the seller still has to confirm.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2019, 07:37:52 AM »
One additional comment: yes, the use of orchestral timbre might be masterful and very important in this score, but....surprisngly, Jeux works remarkably well "in black and white", in Debussy's own piano reduction. Bavouzet's recording on Chandos is excellent!

« Last Edit: April 25, 2019, 07:42:31 AM by ritter »
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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #25 on: April 25, 2019, 10:11:16 AM »
Back to the topic, I can't say Jeux made much of an impression on me. It struck me as sort of an experiment on Debussy's part, constructing music based on a series of instants or gestures, with correlation from one instant to the next almost vanishing. I looked back at my listening notes and did find mention of listening to it some years ago, but I didn't note any reaction to it, other than that the performance exhibited "clarity." It doesn't seem that Debussy followed up on this style of composition, although it was evidently influential for Boulez and some others.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2019, 06:14:12 PM »
Back to the topic, I can't say Jeux made much of an impression on me. It struck me as sort of an experiment on Debussy's part, constructing music based on a series of instants or gestures, with correlation from one instant to the next almost vanishing. I looked back at my listening notes and did find mention of listening to it some years ago, but I didn't note any reaction to it, other than that the performance exhibited "clarity." It doesn't seem that Debussy followed up on this style of composition, although it was evidently influential for Boulez and some others.

Jeux, composed in 1913, was one of the many styles that Debussy was experimenting with in his ‘late’ period, which, sadly, ended when he passed away in 1918. If you look at the works composed during this period (besides Jeux) like En blanc et noir, La boîte à joujoux, the sonatas, the Études, Six épigraphes antiques, Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, among others, you can hear him being decidedly eclectic in style as I believe he was moving further and further away from the whole ‘Impressionist’ label that critics tagged him with. I have no problem with people who dislike Jeux and say negative things about it. I will say it took me some time to appreciate it, but when I did, the late period works opened up completely for me. I think the piece is incredible and can only agree with the enthusiasm that several other members like Rafael and Mandryka have shown for it. Jeux is a work that sounds like someone not only experimenting and forging some kind of new style, but I think it’s gorgeous in it’s enigmatism and just the sheer sonority of the whole piece is intoxicating to me.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2019, 11:19:31 PM »
One additional comment: yes, the use of orchestral timbre might be masterful and very important in this score, but....surprisngly, Jeux works remarkably well "in black and white", in Debussy's own piano reduction. Bavouzet's recording on Chandos is excellent!



Thanks for mentioning this, I knew about the piano reduction through a recording by Alice Adler, but this is better sounding. Do we know why Debussy made the piano score -- was it just for the dance rehearsals?

There is also to be a four handed version which Francois Frederic Guy recorded with Bavouzet, it's Bavouzet's transcription.  I haven't heard it properly but the beginning sounds excellent.





I don't like Debussy when it sounds gaudy, and so these grey colours of the piano suit me very well.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2019, 11:25:20 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #28 on: April 25, 2019, 11:26:18 PM »
music based on a series of instants or gestures, with correlation from one instant to the next almost vanishing.

Music that drifts like dreams, and plunges like desire.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #29 on: April 25, 2019, 11:35:47 PM »
I suppose the piano reduction was made for practical purposes, but I'll have to check on that. In any event, as is often the case with Debussy and Ravel, this transcription is a valid piece of music on its own, and works beautifully.

AFAIK, the piano duet reduction isn't by Debussy himself, but by Léon Rqoues (as per the Bossey & Hawkes website). I haven't heard it.

The only other recording of the piano version I know is that of Jean-Pierre Armengaud in the Warner "Complete Worls" set. It's nowhere as succesful as Bavouzet's IMO.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 12:38:11 AM by ritter »
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Offline pjme

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #30 on: April 25, 2019, 11:47:51 PM »
Music that drifts like dreams, and plunges like desire.

Excellent! I listen to Jeux quite often: I have Yan Pascal Tortelier/ Boulez & Rattle.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #31 on: April 26, 2019, 12:34:09 AM »
I suppose the piano reduction was made for practical purposes, but I'll have to check on that. In any event, as is often the case with Debussy and Ravel, this transcription is a valid piece of music on its own, and works beautifully.

AFAIK, the piano duet reduction isn't by Debussy himself, but by Léon Rqoues (as per the Bossey & Hawkes website). I haven't heard it.

The only other recording of the piano version I know is that of Jean-Pierre Armengaud in the Warner "Complete Worls" set. It's nowhere as succesful as Bavouzet's IMO.

The booklet says that the duet that Bavouzet plays is by Bavouzet himself.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #32 on: April 26, 2019, 05:11:58 AM »
I suppose the piano reduction was made for practical purposes, but I'll have to check on that. In any event, as is often the case with Debussy and Ravel, this transcription is a valid piece of music on its own, and works beautifully.

AFAIK, the piano duet reduction isn't by Debussy himself, but by Léon Rqoues (as per the Bossey & Hawkes website). I haven't heard it.

The only other recording of the piano version I know is that of Jean-Pierre Armengaud in the Warner "Complete Worls" set. It's nowhere as succesful as Bavouzet's IMO.

I’ll have to listen to this as I own the Bavouzet set (and the Warner, too, of course), but I have to say, I’m not completely sold on Bavouzet’s Debussy recordings. They just seem to lack a certain magic my favorite performances have. How do you feel about Bavouzet’s traversal of Debussy, Rafael?
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 06:40:20 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline ritter

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2019, 11:22:43 AM »
I’ll have to listen to this as I own the Bavouzet set (and the Warner, too, of course), but I have to say, I’m not completely sold on Bavouzet’s Debussy recordings. They just seem to lack a certain magic my favorite performances have. How do you feel about Bavouzet’s traversal of Debussy, Rafael?
I think Bavouzet does a very good job in Debussy. I got vol. 5 for Jeux, and then picked up two additional volumes when they were on sale at La Boite à Musique in Brussels. So I don’t know his Préludes or his Images and Études.

I like his muscular, straightforward approach to the music (those pieces I’ve listened to played by him, that is), but usually turn to other pianists’ more or less complete sets  (my favourites being Jacobs, Ciccolini and Paraskivesco). Still, I think Bavouzet’s  Jeux is an extraordinary performance, and a revelatory one. 
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #34 on: April 26, 2019, 11:48:10 AM »
I think Bavouzet does a very good job in Debussy. I got vol. 5 for Jeux, and then picked up two additional volumes when they were on sale at La Boite à Musique in Brussels. So I don’t know his Préludes or his Images and Études.

I like his muscular, straightforward approach to the music (those pieces I’ve listened to played by him, that is), but usually turn to other pianists’ more or less complete sets  (my favourites being Jacobs, Ciccolini and Paraskivesco). Still, I think Bavouzet’s  Jeux is an extraordinary performance, and a revelatory one.

I’ll have to give Bavouzet a better listen. I wasn’t too thrilled with his Debussy whenever I heard it. To me, it's missing something. Perhaps some of the mystique that I hear in Jacobs, Kocsis, Sasaki, Kodama, among others? I’ll have to give his Études a listen as if he fails here, then he pretty much will fail everywhere else, IMHO. It also doesn’t help that I’m extremely critical of pianists who play this piece as not only is this work of my favorites from Debussy, but I know it almost from top to bottom and everything in-between. I don’t like being this picky, but I just can’t help it. There’s a certain way I like this work performed, but this isn’t to say the performances I don’t like are terrible, but they’re just not to my tastes.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #35 on: April 26, 2019, 11:00:29 PM »


HIP Jeux! And even better, a recording which has managed to get the backs up of people, always a good sign

Quote from: Duthois on amazon.fr

Si l’intérêt d'un tel disque, tel qu'il nous est présenté, réside dans la redécouverte des timbres instrumentaux d'époque, il faudrait au minimum que la prise de son soit de haut niveau. Ce qui hélas n'est pas le cas: scène sonore très artificielle avec une profondeur d'orchestre inhabituelle, des cordes au premier plan et des vents repoussés dans le lointain, le tout noyé dans une réverbération de hall de gare. Si la transparence est satisfaisante dans les passages calmes, les tutti d'orchestre sont totalement confus avec une surabondance du registre grave boursouflé qui ajoute à la confusion (Fêtes). Dans ces conditions il parait difficile de jouir des sonorités promises. Par ailleurs la direction d'orchestre me parait manquer de subtilité, de souplesse, et les cordes semblent bien raides. Allons, nous avons suffisamment de témoignages sonores de qualité pour trouver ailleurs un réel plaisir (Inghelbrecht, Ansermet, Munch, Barbirolli...).

The interpretation is interesting, in the same way that for example, the recording of the trio with Moyse, Ginot and Laskine is interesting, or Cortot's preludes, and it stands apart from the more kaleidoscopic and indulgent Debussy style  which maybe became the norm after the war. I wish Francois Xavier Roth had written something about the interpretation, the booklet is a lost opportunity.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 11:07:42 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Biffo

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2019, 01:03:43 AM »
Thanks for mentioning this, I knew about the piano reduction through a recording by Alice Adler, but this is better sounding. Do we know why Debussy made the piano score -- was it just for the dance rehearsals?

There is also to be a four handed version which Francois Frederic Guy recorded with Bavouzet, it's Bavouzet's transcription.  I haven't heard it properly but the beginning sounds excellent.





I don't like Debussy when it sounds gaudy, and so these grey colours of the piano suit me very well.

An interesting comment. Gustave Doret, conductor of the first performance of Prelude a L'apres- midi d'un faune described how Debussy played that work to him on the piano from the proofs of the orchestral score. He was amazed at the composer's ability to reproduce at the keyboard all the orchestral colours and the nuances of the individual instruments, thus creating an apparently perfect interpretation of the work.

Cntrastingly, Debussy told Ysaye how he wanted experiment with the different combinations with a single colour in the same way a painter might make a study in grey. Eventually, he produced En blanc et noir; according to Debussy each of these pieces was like 'the greys of Velazquez'.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2019, 04:52:37 AM »


HIP Jeux! And even better, a recording which has managed to get the backs up of people, always a good sign

The interpretation is interesting, in the same way that for example, the recording of the trio with Moyse, Ginot and Laskine is interesting, or Cortot's preludes, and it stands apart from the more kaleidoscopic and indulgent Debussy style  which maybe became the norm after the war. I wish Francois Xavier Roth had written something about the interpretation, the booklet is a lost opportunity.

I’ve never considered myself a part of the HIP parade, but Roth’s performance of Jeux is a pretty good one. Honestly, I don’t really hear much difference between the modern instrument performances and this HIP one. Perhaps the strings have a bit of a more edge to them? I’m not quite sure, but Roth certainly doesn’t displace Shui on BIS or even Cluytens on EMI (Warner), then there’s Haitink and Boulez. There are many great performances.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2019, 04:54:12 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #38 on: April 27, 2019, 04:57:43 AM »
An interesting comment. Gustave Doret, conductor of the first performance of Prelude a L'apres- midi d'un faune described how Debussy played that work to him on the piano from the proofs of the orchestral score. He was amazed at the composer's ability to reproduce at the keyboard all the orchestral colours and the nuances of the individual instruments, thus creating an apparently perfect interpretation of the work.

Cntrastingly, Debussy told Ysaye how he wanted experiment with the different combinations with a single colour in the same way a painter might make a study in grey. Eventually, he produced En blanc et noir; according to Debussy each of these pieces was like 'the greys of Velazquez'.

Debussy was an incredible pianist and reading through through his biography, you realize just how important the piano was to not only in his own training as a musician, but also as a composer. To have written so much incredible music for the piano certainly indicates that he had an affinity for the instrument unlike any other. This isn’t to say, however, his writing for violin or harp weren’t amazing, because they were, but the piano is in the foreground and background of everything he had composed. En blanc et noir is a gorgeous work, btw. Love it.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2019, 04:59:33 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Debussy’s Jeux
« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2019, 05:18:12 AM »
Contrastingly, Debussy told Ysaye how he wanted experiment with the different combinations with a single colour in the same way a painter might make a study in grey. Eventually, he produced En blanc et noir; according to Debussy each of these pieces was like 'the greys of Velazquez'.

Speaking of ‘grey’, I like this quote from the man himself: ”The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.”
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy