The Concerto for viola and chamber orchestra “Tragicomedy” was composed after the unrealized ballet “Crime and Punishment” (this performance after F. M. Dostoyevsky was conceived by Mikhail Chemiakine, Slonimsky's friend and accomplice).
The Concerto consists of two movements. Both of them are based on the same serial technique. The first movement “Dramma” embodies Raskolnikov's mental complex saturated with his obsessions. The special expression is achieved by means of the serial elaboration and quarter-tone technique.
The second movement “Commedia” originates from buffoonery or chastushka. At any rate there is the element of some playing to dominate, however, being fervent and polysemantic. That's why the second movement exposes all the serial themes of the concerto by both its logic and musical development.