love love love this first Debussy étude. I've always been struck by how funny it is (and I always find it strange, for some reason, when I find things funny that also happen to be old, as if only things happening in the present can be funny).
it's really effective in its "breaking-the-fourth-wall" humor, a reductionism that is almost crude (a mockery of Czerny). but it also lays down the harmonic dialectic of the piece (half-step relationships between modes, diatonicism etc). in this way the "joke" is more than a detached comic moment; it is woven into the music as an integral part of its construction. to me it is funny but also so much more; dignified, breezy, witty, noble, wise, insouciant. just wonderful music.