L’homme et son désir was composed in Brazil in 1917-18, during Milhaud’s tenure as secretary to Paul Claudel. Inspired by the tropical surroundings, and by a visit from Nijinsky, it has a steamy, almost hallucinatory quality, enhanced by the vocalises of Claudel’s “poème plastique” for vocal quartet. The first of Milhaud’s ballets, L’homme et son désir marked the beginning of his fruitful collaboration with the Ballets Suèdois de Rolf de Maré. Its premiere (Paris, 1921, with original décor by Audrey Parr) was a succès de scandale. The work soon gained favor, however, for its exotic beat and thinly veiled sexuality. Claudel divided the staging into four horizontal tiers and Milhaud deployed his ensemble in six groups on either side of tiers one to three. This resulted in some unusual spatial-sonic effects and a great deal of instrumental independence. Even today L’homme et son désir sounds like nothing else ever written. In particular, the writing for percussion and whistle sounds utterly contemporary. The 1948 recording in the Classical Collector anthology, with Milhaud conducting the Ensemble Roger Désormière, is the only one currently available. It is a revelation.