Accompanied by a rich medley of Glazounov’s buoyant melodies, Raymonda Variations is a flurry of ballet technique that features a series of impressive solos at its center and an infectious, triumphant finale.
Balanchine admired Glazounov's score for the three-act ballet Raymonda, calling it "some of the finest ballet music we have." As a student in St. Petersburg, Balanchine danced in the Maryinsky Theatre production that had originally been choreographed by Marius Petipa.
In 1946, Balanchine and ballerina Alexandra Danilova mounted the full-length Raymonda for the Ballet Russe. Balanchine was not, however, enamored of the overly complicated storyline, and instead used excerpts from the score for several plotless works, including Pas de Dix, Cortège Hongrois, and Raymonda Variations. Of this last one, Balanchine wrote, "To try to talk about these dances in any useful way outside the music is not possible; they do not have any literary content at all and of course have nothing to do with the story of the original ballet Raymonda. The music itself, its grand and generous manner, its joy and playfulness, was for me more than enough to carry the plot of the dances."
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