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.


20th September 2020 Madeleine Mitchell,violin; Howard Blake,piano STREAMED LIVE on 20th September 2020 at 4.00pm https://www.st-marys-perivale.org.uk/events-2020-09-20.shtml, St. Mary's, Perivale,near Ealing (outside London} Link to view: https://www.st-marys-perivale.org.uk/events-2020-09-20.shtml

Pennillion op. 571- Variations on a folk-like theme
Violin Sonata op. 566 - Allegro, Lento, Vivace
'The Ice Princess & the Snowman' op.557
'Jazz Dances' op.520a Folk Ballad, Jazz Waltz, Galop
'Walking in the Air', from The Snowman op.371a, arr. by HB for MM
Composer's note. 'Pennillion' was originally composed for Jack Rothstein in 1973 when he also suggested the sonata, composed in the same year. However the first definitive recordings were not made until the album for Naxos made by today's soloists in 2005. 'The Ice Princess & the Snowman' op.557 was arranged for violin and piano at Madeleine's special request, as were all the 'Jazz Dances' op.520a and  'Walking in the Air', from The Snowman op.371a!

23rd April 2018 Madeleine Mitchell violin and Martin Butler piano,

23 April 1-1.50pm Recital of English  Music on St George's Day: Ireland Violin Sonata no.2, Howard Blake Penillion & 2 Jazz Dances, Martin Butler Suzanne's River Song, with Martin Butler, piano St Peter's, Kensington Park Road, London W11 2PN Free, with retiring collection http://www.nottinghillconcerts.co.uk/home/4592046749

3rd April 2018 Madeleine Mitchell violin and Martin Butler piano, Chapel Royal, Brighton

3 April 1.10-1.55pm Recital Brighton Chapel Royal, 164 North Street, Brighton BN1 1EA Howard Blake Penillion & 2 Jazz Dances, Martin Butler Suzanne's River Song,  Ireland Violin Sonata no.2 with Martin Butler, piano - Composers of Sussex Tickets on the door £3



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' 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'
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' op.550 (April 2005)
An arrangement of 'Dances for two pianos' for bassoon and piano

Related Autobiography Chapters

Narrated version of 'The Bear', 'Scotland' (2007)
RPO Cadogan Hall,Easter Anthem, Can Y Crud, Spieltrieb (2008)

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