The Czech composer, Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959), was living in Paris when, in 1927, he composed the score for the zany ballet in one act, La Revue de Cuisine (“The Kitchen Review”).
The plot of the ballet centers around the romantic entanglements of a menagerie of kitchen utensils which have come to life. The happy marriage of the Pot and the Lid is threatened by the seductive Twirling Stick. While the Pot is tempted by the Twirling Stick, the Lid receives advances from the Dishcloth. The situation is resolved when a giant offstage boot, seemingly out of a Monty Python sketch, intervenes, and kicks the Lid back to the Pot.
La Revue de Cuisine is scored for a sextet made up of clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello, and piano. The witty musical conversations of these disparate instrumental voices reflect the assemblage of utensils. Martinů’s music is neoclassical and jazzy.
The Prologue which opens the Suite takes the form of a march in which we meet the instrumental “characters.” Beginning with a trumpet fanfare, this march gets off to a humorously clumsy start with added beats, as if to foreshadow absurd misadventures to come. Filled with Spanish inflections, the Tango is an alluring dance in which the cello, trumpet, and bassoon individually take centerstage. The Tango crossfades into the boisterous Charleston, a nod to the American Jazz Age flapper dance which was popular at the time. The Finale depicts the loving reunification of the Pot and Lid and the ensuing jazzy celebration.
- Martinů: La Revue de Cuisine, Sinfonia Lahti Chamber Ensemble Amazon
Featured Image: kitchen utensils designed by Michael Graves
1 thought on “Martinů’s “La Revue de Cuisine”: A Zany, Jazz Age Ballet Suite”
Wonderful, exciting, lovely, engaging music and musicians. THANK YOU.