The Prelude, Air and Dance for Solo Violin with Accompaniment for String Quartet and Percussion, Op. 61, to give it is full title, is a work in the line of violin works such as the Introduction and Rondo Capricioso of Saint-Saens and Szymanowski's Nocturne and Tarantelle. It was commissioned by the BBC and given its first performance at a 'Tuesday Invitation Concert' on 28 April 1964.
The Prelude is a self-contained piece, developed from the melody announced by the solo violin after a short introduction for the string quartet; the Air, a meditation on a Northumbrian folk-lament, leads without a break into the Dance.
In 'Dialectic' the first sixteen bars provide the thematic material for the whole work, apart from a few purely harmonic notes, which occur in eight bars only out of two hundred and thirty three. In the Prelude, Air and Dance each movement has its own subject from which thematic material is derived; harmonic notes, not thematically organised, are more frequent than in 'Dialectic', especially in the Dance. Yet the technical method underlying both works is fundamentally the same, though they are widely different in expressive content and indeed in genre.