Jeu de timbres

for Orchestra

Steven Stucky

Rental
Performing Ensemble: Orchestra
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

There is a simplistic but sometimes useful rule of thumb for categorizing 20th-century music. Works that emphasize thematic development and counterpoint are "German," while those that emphasize color, atmosphere, and the beauty of individual harmonies are "French." Look at it closely enough, of course, and this dichotomy fails right away -- just think of the thematic development in Debussy, or of the harmonic sorcery in Schoenberg or even (on a good day) Hindemith -- but still it has its uses. If by "French" we mean music that follows Debussy's example in prizing the rich harmonic sonority or the delicate instrumental effect for its own sake (as opposed to valuing it mostly for its logical function in the musical grammar), then I am happily a composer of "French" music. Among my household gods are not only Debussy but also several other composers for whom sonority and color are not cosmetic frills but fundamental building blocks, including Stravinsky, Ravel, Varèse, Messiaen, and Lutoslawski.

In its brief four-minute span, Jeu de timbres spends most of its energy on rhythmic verve and luminous orchestral colors. There are two themes, to be sure, but the first of them, a descending line of splashy chords, is mainly about its own splashiness, and even the second, though it is an honest-to-goodness lyrical melody in the strings, would make a poor candidate for a symphonic working-out of the Beethoven or Mahler sort. The title (play, or game, of musical colors) both alludes to these Gallic tendencies in general and makes a small, specific inside joke: jeu de timbres is the French name for the orchestra bells or glockenspiel, an instrument that makes an occasional appearance here. There are other inside jokes, too, including two admiring glances at works by Maurice Ravel — one oblique, the other (at the very end) quite direct.

Jeu de timbres was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, DC, Leonard Slatkin, Music Director, and made possible by the John and June Hechinger Commission Fund for New Orchestral Works. Mr. Slatkin led the National Symphony in the first performance at the Kennedy Center on 22nd January, 2004.

Available on Rental

Scores & Parts

Jeu de timbres - Full Score - Study
Jeu de timbres - Full Score - Large

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, DC, Leonard Slatkin, Music Director,made possible by the John and June Hechinger Commission Fund for New Orchestral Works
Composition Date 2003
Duration 4:00
Orchestration 3(Picc.) 3 3 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; 2Perc. Pno. 2Hp. Str.
Premiere First Performance: 22 January 2004National Symphony OrchestraLeonard Slatkin conducting

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