Bohuslav MartinůSinfonietta La Jolla
Born in what is now the Czech Republic, Bohuslav Martinů was one of the many European artists that emigrated from Europe to the USA to escape the Second World War. When his homeland fell into the Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union after the war, in 1948, he decided to stay permanently in the New World. In the event, however, he returned to Europe in the 1950s, living mainly in France and Italy. Martinů enjoyed living in the USA. He had teaching jobs, and his works were performed reasonably often. During his years in the USA, Martinů wrote music mainly in a Neo-Baroque style that was appreciated by local audiences.
One of the most attractive works in Martinů’s extensive output of nearly 400 works is Sinfonietta La Jolla, commissioned by the music association of La Jolla, a district of the city of San Diego, in 1950. The commission asked for a melodic, accessible work, and Martinů delivered. Although he wrote the work in the hectic atmosphere of New York, it can well be imagined to illustrate the happy life of the seaside town of La Jolla near the Mexican border. The work is scored for a small orchestra, including a piano, which Martinů often included in his orchestral works but which here is in an obligato role more prominent than usual.
The three-movement Sinfonietta is one of the last works that Martinůn wrote in the Neo-Baroque style. The first movement emerges as vivaciously energetic and brisk, and soon a soaring melody appears over the rhythmic movement, as so often with Martinů, cleverly syncopated to keep it independent from the basic pulse. The melodic element is heightened in the slow movement, first in the simple piano melody appearing over the steady string accompaniment and then as a nostalgic violin tune and a chromatic theme on winds leading to an intense culmination. In the final movement, the Baroque beat of the opening movement returns, though the rhythmic energy gives way to a melodic passage before the crisp and concise conclusion.