JAZZ DANCES (for violin and piano) op.520a (April 2001)

A concert arrangement of 'Dances for Two Pianos' for violin and piano
Published by: Highbridge Music Limited
Duration: 13:33
Sheet Music Available
Instrumental / piano score for sale
Instrumental parts for sale
Recordings Available
Music for piano and strings
Released: 28th October 2008
Recorded: 24th May 2008
Artists: Sonata for violin and piano, Jazz Dances, Pennillion: Madeleine Mitchell (violin) Howard Blake (piano) Recorded Potton Hall, May 24-25, July 13 2008. The CD includes an archive recording of the Piano Quartet performed by Jack Rothstein (violin), Kenneth Essex (viola), Peter Willison (cello) and Howard Blake(piano), recorded at the Conway Hall, October 1974
Available from: Amazon UK Naxos Records

Recorded on NAXOS: HOWARD BLAKE MUSIC FOR PIANO & STRINGS (74'15'') Madeleine Mitchell (violin) and Howard Blake (piano) Naxos 8.572083 released October 28th 2008 www.naxos.com


  • 1: Parade 1 minutes 01 seconds
    Allegro.molto ritmico
  • 2: Slow Ragtime 1 minutes 24 seconds
  • 3: Jump 59 seconds
    Molto animato
  • 4: Medium Rock 1 minutes 55 seconds
    Tempo giusto
  • 5: Folk Ballad 2 minutes 08 seconds
  • 6: Boogie 1 minutes 04 seconds
  • 7: Jazz Waltz 2 minutes 10 seconds
    Allegretto triste
  • 8: Cha-cha 1 minutes 47 seconds
  • 9: Galop 1 minutes 05 seconds


The 9 pieces pay mischievous homage to the rhythmic intracacies of popular dance forms. They were originally composed as Dances for 2 Pianos, but have been re-scored in versions for piano and orchestra, woodwind ensemble and symphony orchestra, in which versions they have been called Concert Dances. This version for violin and piano is an arrangement of the version for cello and piano created by the composer in 2001 for cellist Martin Rummel and given the more apt title Jazz Dances.


Review by James Manheim

British composer Howard Blake is known in his native country for film scores, including that for the short animated feature The Snowman (1982). Even by that time, however, he had begun to cut back on writing film and television music in favor of concert pieces at a time hardly congenial for his conservative style. An intriguing feature of the chamber music presented here is that three of the four works are revised versions of works written in the mid-'70s; the fourth dates from 1974 and is presented in a recording made in that year. That recording sounds sonically out of place, but this little-known music -- all the pieces are world premieres -- is a nice find. Blake can certainly be classed with the neo-Romantics. Reportedly he was initially surprised to be compared with Dvorák, but here, in his own booklet notes, he quotes a critic who makes the comparison. Like that of his model, Blake's version of Romanticism avoids sentimentality and heavily relies on rhythmic interest. Blake excels in short forms. The Penillion for violin and piano, Op. 571, is a startlingly concise variation set (a penillion is a Welsh oral tradition of improvised verses), and perhaps the highlight of the whole disc is the group of Jazz Dances for violin and piano, Op. 520a. Originally written for two pianos and arriving in the current version via one for cello, these dances are not jazz in the Gershwin sense, but subtle rhythmic tweaks of popular rhythms that go beyond jazz to tango (Slow Ragtime, track 17) and even medium rock, which makes something consistently absorbing out of the simplest of rhythms. The larger works are closer to the Dvorák models, with vigorous dance themes overlaid with hints of chromaticism. A pleasing group of works for those who enjoy the new Romantic sound.


Related Works

'DANCES FOR TWO PIANOS (2-stave version - separate parts 1 & 2)' op.217 (March 1976) (Audio Sample Available)
A concert suite in 9 movements
'Concert Dances (For Piano And Orchestra)' op.334 (May 1984)
A Concertante Suite for Piano And Orchestra
'Concert Dances (for Wind Orchestra)' op.382 (1988)
An Arrangement of 'Dances for Two Pianos'
'Concert Dances for Orchestra' op.432 (February 1992)
An orchestral arrangement of 'Dances for two pianos'
'JAZZ DANCES (for cello and piano)' op.520 (April 2001)
A concert work arranged from 'Dances for two pianos'
'Three's Company (for piano trio)' op.548 (February 2005)
A re-arrangement of 'Dances for two pianos' for violin, cello and piano
'Le Basson Qui Danse(for bassoon and piano)' op.550 (April 2005)
An arrangement of 'Dances for two pianos'

Related Autobiography Chapters

Madeleine Mitchell prompts the revised Violin Sonata and an album for Naxos (2007)
70th birthday celebrations with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (2008)

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