Perhaps the most avant-garde of Balanchine's "black and white" ballets, this work uses Webern's edgy tones as the basis for a series of four arresting neoclassical interludes.
These dances were made on the occasion of an homage to Anton von Webern, which included all his orchestral works and in which Martha Graham and her company joined Mr. Balanchine and his. The dances reflect the succinctness of the score's musical speech. The micro-structures of the music are paralleled by an analysis of classic dance motion. The gestural secrets of the latter are isolated, reoriented, and juxtaposed. The power of momentum is kept. In the final section Webern's orchestration of an unorchestrated Ricercata of Bach imitates a Baroque organ. The dance follows the amplitude of development in the score. Virgil Thomson has described Webern's music as "a dialect of Bach."
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