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Displaced dances : for piano and orchestra

by Elena Kats-Chernin (2000)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

From the CD Works for orchestra. Vol. 4

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Elena Kats-Chernin. Vol. 7.


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Elena Kats-Chernin. Vol. 7.

Library shelf no. CD 1183 [Available for loan]

Displaced dances


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Displaced dances / Elena Kats-Chernin.

Library shelf no. Q 784.262186/KAT 2 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

This piano concerto was written specifically for Stephanie McCallum and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. It was a special pleasure for me to write for Stephanie, as she has performed many of my pieces over the years. It is a set of 12 dances that follow one after the other, like a set of variations but not on any one theme. Unlike most concertos, the soloist and orchestra are in a 'give and take' situation rather than a classic 'soloist versus orchestra' battle for supremacy. In my Dances the orchestra often has the main melody, and the piano emerges from that into the foreground before receding again. It's almost a burlesque piece, like a mirrored carousel of slightly twisted dance styles. These however, are not dances as we usually think of them. They are based on a series of non-musical gestures - sometimes quite tiny - or musical cells, rather than traditional dance genres, as the titles demonstrate:

Some movements are densely orchestrated (1 and 5) but others are quite spare (2 and 3) and one is a pure piano solo (7). Each dance has its own specific harmonic world and most of them have a clear tonal centre throughout, most obviously so in No.9, a kind of seven-legged tango. There is a strong emphasis on extreme registers - No.8 is low and No. 10 is a very high rondo.

Each of the movements also contains a different challenge for the soloist: in No.2, for example, it is note repetition; in No.4, stamina; No.6, arpeggios; No.10, brilliant percussiveness and in No.12 fast octaves. Overall, I was aiming to create as many contrasts as possible in the writing.

What was most important to me was creating an overall feeling of displacement, as if one was lost in a strange city. This seems a theme of much of my work, playing with the familiar to create something new and creating a sense of musical déjà-vu where the past becomes new, and yet is oddly recognisable, like a half-remembered dream.

Dances of migration, loss and discovery - all up, it's a strangely Australian type of concerto.

Elena Kats-Chernin, 2000

Work Details

Year: 2000

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 3 oboes, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players), harp, solo piano, strings.

Duration: 25 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: 1. Spin the wheel -- 2. Dance of the moral finger -- 3. Dance of reduced material -- 4. Dance of the missing links -- 5. Dance of the skyscrapers -- 6. Dance of naive thoughts -- 7. Dance of smoothing the edges -- 8. Chthonic melody -- 9. Dance in seven-four -- 10. Country dance -- 11. Dance of the intervals -- 12. Dance of octaves.

Commission note: Commissioned by Symphony Australia for performance by Stephanie McCallum, Queensland Symphony Orchestra with funds provided by Australia Council.

First performance: by Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Stephanie McCallum, Tuomas Ollila — 14 Oct 00. Queensland Performing Arts Complex, Brisbane


Performances of this work

14 Oct 00: Queensland Performing Arts Complex, Brisbane. Featuring Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Stephanie McCallum, Tuomas Ollila.

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