Soon after war broke out in September 1939, Stravinsky emigrated to the USA, where he remained for the rest of his life. He received a commission from the Werner Janssen Orchestra in Los Angeles, and he completed Dances Concertantes to this commission in Hollywood in January 1942.
Dances Concertantes is scored for a 24-piece chamber orchestra. While it was intended as a concert work, it has inspired many choreographers because of its dancelike character.
Danses Concertantes is typical of Stravinsky’s Neo-Classical period. It is closely related in both time and style to the Symphony in C; indeed, the opening of ‘Pas d’action’, the second movement of Danses Concertantes, is almost identical to the opening of the finale of the Symphony. Apart from its dancelike qualities, a key feature of the work is its ‘concertante’ chamber music texture. Stravinsky rarely uses a full tutti, instead giving space to solos and dialogue between instrument groups.
Dances Concertantes is a five-movement suite in which the first two and last two movements are played without a break. The work opens with a brisk and quirky martial introduction, a brief recapitulation of which also concludes the work. The most extensive movement is the middle one, a theme and four variations.
Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi