Displaying Robbins’ penchant for crafting diverse emotional atmospheres to solo piano pieces, this folk-tinged ballet for three couples, a male soloist, and a corps de ballet contrasts delicate solemnness with congenial amusement.
For the 1981 Tschaikovsky Festival, Jerome Robbins chose 15 of the composer's piano pieces to weave into a ballet with a Russian peasant flavor. Tschaikovsky wrote such pieces because they were easily marketable to amateur musicians. Although he enjoyed composing to order, he once remarked, "I continue to bake musical pancakes. Today the tenth has been tossed." To compose these miniature musical vignettes with a great deal of character, Tschaikovsky said, "One needs a definite plot or text, a time limit, and a promise of several hundred ruble notes." The Seasons, one of the series of pieces used in the ballet, demonstrates the simplicity of form that allowed Tschaikovsky to feature his inspired talent for melodies. The ballet, a collection of group works, solos, and pas de deux, demonstrates Robbins' love for folk dances, ensemble interaction, and musical phrasing.