This week's performances will instead offer Stravinsky's ballet Petrushka, and both the ballet and the Mahler recordings are related to the program of the week past, which we attended on Friday. That symphony performance opened with an impromptu tutorial on Debussy by Michael Tilson-Thomas, and when the maestro talks, we listen. Prior to playing Debussy's Les Jeux (1913), the score to a Diaghilev ballet, like Petrushka, MTT said: that Debussy thought it was "far too much work to write for orchestra." We paraphrase MTT, but Debussy did not need no orchestra, and was perfectly happy to play on his upright piano, but a new kid was showing up on his block: Stravinsky has had great success in Paris with Firebird (incidentally, recorded by MTT and the SF Symphony) and Petrushka, and Debussy "was motivated to pull all stops" to show off the youngster. Cage match! MTT admitted that Debussy could not "outdo Stravinsky in loud music" so his piece "surrenders to sensuality with a sense of playfulness and melancholy."

Gustav Mahler's picture MUST be in the public domain