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Jeux et contes cruels
Of the four works for orchestra which he had planned to write for ballet – all between 1910 and 1914 – Claude Debussy finished only one: Jeux, a ballet which describes erotic attraction between young people as a game, an ‘artistic apology of man in the year 1913’. For La boîte à joujoux, a ‘ballet for children’, Debussy confided the orchestration to his colleague André Caplet. Despite the relatively small amount of ballet music written by him, a sublimated form of dance constitutes the basis of several of Debussy’s works, such as Rondes de Printemps, a piece from the cycle Images. An echo of the typically French refinement of Debussy’s universe of sound is heard a century later in the spectral music of Tristan Murail. In his Contes cruels for two electric guitars and small orchestra, he evokes with a touch of humour the 19th century literary world of Villiers de l’Isle-Adam.
© BananaStock / AFP Susanna Mälkki © Simon Fowler