The music of the two parts of Monumentum/Movements is an interesting contrast. In the first, Stravinsky was inspired by the music of Don Carlo Gesualdo (1560-1613, contemporary of Shakespeare, Caravaggio, and Monteverdi), "Prince of Madrigalists"; in spite of its radical chromaticism, his music was popular in its day. The three madrigals for five voices "recomposed" by Stravinsky are softer to the ear, their unexpected vocal harmonics muted by [being played by] instruments. Each lasts just over two minutes.
So too in Balanchine's choreography, for a leading dancer, her partner, and six couples, there is no hint of dissonant roughness but rather, chaste simplicity. Walking is the key movement, clear-cut patterns the motif, and courtly demeanor the tone. In the most robust sequence, the ballerina is thrown three times* into the upstretched arms of other [male] partners, but even here it is the suspended image of her full arabesque in flight, rather than the force of her trajectory, that leaves the impression.
Reynolds doesn't say much about the second part. Here are some of Balanchine's words:
In Movements for Piano and Orchestra, one of the composer's first works in serial style [each note in the theme or series having equal weight or importance] we have the composer speaking directly, in terms of his own preoccupations... The ballet is a double concerto for male and female dancers, both identified with the piano solo.
The ballet is in five parts, lasting eight and a half minutes. Each part begins with a short instrumental introduction. Two groups of three girls set the tone for each section and the lead couple takes up the music as the piano enters. I seriously think that the best preparation for seeing this ballet is to listen to Stravinsky's recording of it a number of times. Its complexity and compression are remarkable.
*See Post #3 below.
Edited by Jack Reed, 16 June 2010 - 06:27 AM.