Hyperion Records

La Revue de Cuisine

'Martinů: Chamber Music' (CDD22039)
Martinů: Chamber Music
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Movement 1: Prologue. Allegretto: Marche
Track 11 on CDD22039 CD2 [4'02] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Movement 2: Tango: Lento
Track 12 on CDD22039 CD2 [4'11] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Movement 3: Charleston: Poco a poco allegro
Track 13 on CDD22039 CD2 [2'53] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Movement 4: Finale: Tempo di marcia
Track 14 on CDD22039 CD2 [3'29] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)

La Revue de Cuisine
In 1927 Martinu wrote no fewer than three ballets, an opera, several piano pieces and some chamber music. The last of the three ballets was La Revue de Cuisine (‘The Kitchen Review’). This was written for a Czech dance company who produced it with great success in Prague in November that year under the title Pokušení svatouška hrnce (‘The Temptation of the Saintly Pot’). The plot concerns the activities of various kitchen utensils. The marriage between pot and lid is threatened by the machinations of the stick who attempts to lure the lid with the dishcloth. The broom tries to restrain the cloth, but the lid rolls away. All is finally and happily resolved when a huge foot kicks the lid back on stage to be reunited with the long-suffering pot.

In 1930 the four pieces which make up the score were performed independently at the Concerts Cortot and were published as a concert suite the same year. The four pieces are ‘Prologue’, ‘Tango’, ‘Charleston’ and ‘Finale’, and the ‘orchestra’ consists of a sextet of clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello and piano, a combination well suited to producing a sound similar to that of the typical Paris jazz bands of the period.

The ‘Prologue’ begins with a fanfare followed by a march in a perkily distorted rhythm. This is taken up and developed by the various instruments. In the ‘Tango’ first the cello, then muted trumpet, pizzicato strings and the bassoon in the upper register underline with lugubrious irony the ‘Spanish’ inflexions of a dance which was as much a craze in the ’20s as the Charleston. As if to emphasize the point the ‘Tango’ dissolves into the ‘Charleston’, the band picking up the new rhythm in a delicious re-creaction of collective improvisation. Milhaud, Copland and Gershwin have received more praise for their jazz works, but it could be argued convincingly that Martinu heard what jazz bands were doing more clearly and translated their style more accurately than any of them. The ‘Finale’ begins with a return to the initial fanfare, but goes on to realize the mood of rejoicing in echoes of James P Johnson’s classic Charleston and barely disguised references to other popular American dance tunes of the time.

from notes by Kenneth Dommett & Robert Matthew-Walker © 1998

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