Martins’ The Infernal Machine finds a man and woman intertwined as they push and pull their way through a buzzing score.
Set to the score of the same name by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Christopher Rouse, The Infernal Machine is a pas de deux that was created by Peter Martins for the 10th anniversary of New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project in 2002. Rouse has written the following about the score:
“The work takes its title from the eponymous play by Jean Cocteau, though that drama's retelling of the Oedipus myth had no influence on the piece. Rather it was my intention to compose a brief orchestral showpiece inspired by the vision of a great self-sufficient machine eternally in motion for no particular purpose. But while this machine is not specifically satanic, it is more than a little sinister. The score is a perpetuum mobile wherein the monster sometimes whirs along in mercurially unconcerned fashion, while at others it sputters or throws off slightly hellish sparks, occasionally grinding as it changes gears. At the suggestion of my friend Joseph Schwantner, 'The Infernal Machine' now also functions as the center movement of an orchestral triptych. Commissioned by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and first performed on October 24, 1986, 'Phantasmata' surrounds 'The Infernal Machine' with 'The Evestrum of Juan de la Cruz in the Sagrada Familia', '3 A.M.', and 'Bump'. Both 'The Infernal Machine' and 'Bump' may still be performed separately.”