Martinu maintained his optimistic musical spirit despite his double exile. As a Czech composer living in Paris he found himself cut off from his homeland when Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938, then had to flee Europe itself when Germany invaded France. Finally, living in the United States, he was again cut off from home when his homeland fell to a Soviet-dominated puppet-regime takeover in 1948. His style contains a neat blend of Dvorák's good humor and melodic gift, Janácek's terseness and fast musical action, and Stravinsky's neo-classicism. This blend is well represented in this charming and extroverted ten-minute piece.
The first movement is twice as long as either of the two others, but since it is divided into two clearly marked sections, the effect is a suite-like structure. The first movement is a test of rhythmic coordination, with complex cross rhythms between the different players' parts. The second movement uses the entire compass of the clarinet in a flowing melody. The third movement features dazzling trills and other showy techniques. In a tricky effect to bring off, Martinu keeps the clarinet part an eighth note ahead of the piano part in the counterpoint that dominates the music.