MARTINŮ Bohuslav, La Revue De Cuisine
Charleston. Poco a poco allegro
Finale. Tempo di marcia
Martinů’s jazz ballet La Revue de Cuisine was composed in 1927 for an ensemble of six instruments: clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello and piano. Based on a deliciously absurd scenario by Jarmila Kröschlová, it tells the story of the precarious love life of some kitchen utensils: The marriage of the Pot and the Lid is in danger of being broken up by the smooth-talking Twirling Stick. The pot succumbs to his charms, while the Dishcloth makes eyes at Lid but is challenged to a duel by the Broom. Eventually the Pot and the Lid kiss and make up while the Twirling Stick goes off with the Dishcloth. The premiere of the ballet in Prague (1927) was given under the title of The Temptation of the Saintly Cooking Pot and subsequently Martinů derived a four-movement suite from his score, gave it a new title and achieved his first international success: after a performance given in Paris on 5 January 1930 at a concert put on by the great French pianist Alfred Cortot, the publisher Alphonse Leduc immediately signed up Martinů and quickly published the score and parts.
The first movement begins with a jaunty trumpet fanfare, followed by a lop-sided piano vamp and the gradual entrance of the rest of the ensemble for a high-spirited movement that reaches a climax with the return of the opening fanfare. The second movement is a moody Tango, and the third an entertaining Charleston. For the finale, Martinů recalls the opening fanfare (this time on the bassoon) before launching into a joyous March that avoids rhythmic symmetry and has some syncopations that recall Martinů’s interest in jazz. In fact, throughout this delightful work the sound of the small ensemble chosen by Martinů intentionally reflects the sound of dance bands from the time.
Nigel Simeone © 2011