This work, which was commissioned by Frederique Petrides, conductor of the Orchestrette Classique, and dedicated to her, was completed in March, 1940. It is in three movements and is designed to demonstrate the capabilities of the marimba as a solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment.
The first movement, marked "Vigorous", is based on two main themes, a strongly rhythmic one and a lyric one, both of which are announced in the orchestral introduction. The development of these themes occurs mainly in the solo part, and within the 3/4 meter are incorporated various rhythmic patterns.
The second movement, marked "Calm", consists of an introductory theme first presented by solo flute, immediately followed by the main theme (in chordal structure) played by the marimba with four mallets. The general mood of tranquility is retained throughout, except for a minor climax developed toward the middle of the movement.
The last movement, marked ''Lively'', is a combination scherzo and finale, in 6/8 time. Rhythmic variety is the chief objective of this movement, the lyric and dramatic elements are interspersed throughout.
There are no isolated cadenzas to reveal the virtuosity of the soloist, as the composition as a whole affords numerous opportunities to display this phase.
After the first performance of the work, Howard Taubman wrote in the New York Times: "The marimba has its limitations as a solo instrument, but Mr. Creston wrote well within them. He is, moreover, a composer with ideas and invention." And Robert Lawrence of the New York Herald Tribune wrote: "Actually. Mr Creston surpassed expectations and produced a sturdy composition of inherent musical interest."
-- Paul Creston