Dance Suite

Premiere: 30 April 2001 at Pierce Chapel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. Steve Sjobring, violin; Jonathan Blumhofer, viola; Beth-El Montgomery, cello

Duration: ca. 8′

Instrumentation: string trio (violin, viola, and cello)

Performance Note: Dance Suite had something of a convoluted compositional history. Its first three movements were written in the spring of 2001, and I added two further movements between November 2001 and February 2002 that I later removed. The final version of the work proceeds as follows:

I. Tango – For about five years between 1997 and 2002, I was fascinated by the idea of the tango; in that time I wrote two or three tangos, of which this movement was the last. Not being familiar with the proper form of the dance, I basically developed my own (which makes it perhaps more accurate to describe this movement as a sexy minuet and trio). A cadenza for cello opens the Suite, before the violin and viola take up the main tune. The “trio” section features a reworking of part of a piano piece I wrote in 1998, before the opening material returns to close the movement.

II. Waltz – This is the first of two waltzes (the first variation of my Variations on THAXTED being the other) which does its best to avoid the traditional triple meter. Beats of five, seven, and even four alternate in a delightfully off-kilter manner, while a snatch of the “Paris Waltz” from Candide makes an appearance at the climax of the piece.

III. Tarantella – Beats of five and seven reappear, now with a vengeance. The only tarantella with which I was familiar before this one was Mendelssohn’s, though there is no mistaking one for the other. The movement falls essentially into a rondo form with a very fast Coda that rounds things out with a jolt of energy.

The movements of Dance Suite are each dedicated to my two fellow performers at its premiere in 2001: Beth-El Montgomery (cellist, Tango) and Steve Sjobring (violin, Tarantella), and my then-three-year-old friend Claire Johnston (Waltz).