Rather than following a distinct narrative, this abstract ballet follows the varied textures and moods of Shostakovich's score.
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Concerto marked the start of a new phase in Kenneth MacMillan's career. He had recently become director of the Deutsche Oper Ballet, Berlin, and was keen to redefine the company and showcase its full range. He selected a score of youthful vivacity – Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto no.2 in F, which was created to mark the 19th birthday of the composer's son. Concerto was greeted with a standing ovation on its premiere in 1966 and immediate requests to acquire it from ballet companies worldwide.
MacMillan's choreography complements the precision and invention of Shostakovich's score perfectly. In the energetic first movement, the corps de ballet marches en pointe in unison, in response to a military flourish in the music. A slow, sensuous Andante follows, featuring a pas de deux that was inspired by seeing Lynn Seymour, MacMillan's friend and muse, warming up at the barre. The final movement brings the work to a spirited close, with a large corps de ballet dancing with quick, prancing steps. Jürgen Rose's bright designs reinforce the ballet’s warmth and energy.