About this work
Shostakovich extracted this suite from his unsuccessful 1930 so-called athletic ballet, The Age of Gold, about the adventures of a Soviet soccer team abroad. The suite's four unnamed movements last a mere 16 or 17 minutes. The opening movement, "Introduction," derives from the work's overture. It is vigorous and colorful, sassy and sarcastic, auguring the music in the composer's 1936 Symphony No. 5. After a playful, mischievous opening, a parade of themes and light moods ensues, with numerous tempo shifts, the whole sounding episodic in its generally comic character. The ensuing Adagio, fully half the entire length of the suite, begins with a lovely, if slightly sour theme on soprano saxophone, representing a cabaret singer in the ballet. The middle section turns darkly intense, but the outer panels are dreamy and nocturnal. The ensuing Polka, satirizing League of Nations politicians, is humorous if a bit overdone, and the concluding rambunctious "Dance," whose music is associated with the soccer team in the ballet, clearly exhibits the influence of Stravinsky's Petrushka.