A concert work arranged from 'Dances for two pianos'
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Commissioned by: Benedict Kloeckner
Instrumentation: cello and piano

[Key to Abbreviations]
Duration: 13 mins
Sheet Music Available
Instrumental / piano score for sale
Instrumental parts for sale


  • 1: Parade
  • 2: Slow Ragtime
  • 3: Jump
  • 4: Medium Rock
  • 5: Folk Ballad
  • 6: Boogie
  • 7: Slow Waltz
  • 8: Cha-cha
  • 9: Galop


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 cello and piano created by the composer in 2001 for cellist Martin Rummel is given the more apt title Jazz Dances.


29th October 2013 Benedict Kloeckner and Howard Blake, The Music Room, 45 Queen's Gate Terrace, Kensington, London

A programme of Howard Blake's music on his 75th birthday


Review by James Manheim

A review of the work in its version for violin and piano recorded on Naxos by Madeleine Mitchell and Howard Blake.

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.

James Manheim, Rovi, 2012

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' op.334 (May 1984)
A Concertante Suite for Piano And Orchestra
An Arrangement of 'Dances for Two Pianos'
'CONCERT DANCES' op.432 (February 1992)
An orchestral arrangement of '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' op.550 (April 2005)
An arrangement of 'Dances for two pianos' for bassoon and piano

Related Autobiography Chapters


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