Tango Song and Dance was composed in 1997 as a set of lighthearted virtuoso pieces for Anne-Sophie Mutter. At the time, the Tango revival craze had not yet been born, and so the first movement with it purposeful and exaggerated Tango clichés was still possible. The clustered harmonies are not terribly far removed from the sound the traditional accordion makes, and the whole movement should be full of self-conscious poses.
Not much needs to be said about the middle movement; the title Song is self-explanatory. The violin predominates throughout, and the accompaniment is simple and direct. The Dance is a bit more complicated. Just when the rhythm threatens to relax into eight beats per bar, it trips over the last note and becomes seven. I doubt whether dancers would be happy keeping time to this, bur of course for two instrumentalists it becomes a good deal easier. The ending is percussive and relentless and an unadulterated C major puts the final stamp on things.
— André Previn
The premiere of Tango Song and Dance took place August 26, 2001 in Lucerne, Switzerland with Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin and André Previn, piano. A recording by the same artists is available on Deutsche Grammophon, CD 471 500-2.