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The composition of this 22-minute orchestral work was suggested by Universal Edition: Alexander Zemlinsky was asked to write a piece without soloists that would be easy to promote.
It actually enjoyed a promising series of successful performances, including in New York under Mitropoulos – however, the composer was already too ill to attend the concert. The music of Sinfonietta lies somewhere between Mahler-style late-romanticism and a linear objectivity, with the second movement, a Ballade, coming closest to the spirit of Mahler. The work shows what Viennese music can sound like without Schönberg’s influence. Zemlinsky connoisseurs will also spot quotations from his own works, including String Quartet No. 2, the sixth Maeterlinck-Gesang and the opera Der Kreidekreis.