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Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays Benjamin concerto in Carnegie Hall (Feb 6)

Pierre-Laurent Aimard Plays Back-to-Back Carnegie Hall Concerts: NY Premiere of George Benjamin’s Duet with Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst (Feb 6) Follows Solo Recital of Elliott Carter and Bach in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (Feb 5)

Aimard then Travels to Chicago for Solo Recital on February 8

Pierre-Laurent Aimard and the Cleveland Orchestra have already performed George Benajmin’s latest orchestral work, Duet for piano and orchestra, in its world, U.K., and U.S. premieres at Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival, London’s BBC Proms, and in Cleveland, respectively. Now it’s New York’s turn to hear the remarkable British composer’s concertante oeuvre at Carnegie Hall on February 6, during the Cleveland Orchestra’s week-long residency in the city. Conducted by the orchestra’s long-standing music director, Franz Welser-Möst, the concert will be Aimard’s second Carnegie appearance in as many days – on the preceding evening he delivers his annual Carnegie Hall recital, presenting short works by last year’s centenarian Elliott Carter, interspersed with excerpts from J.S. Bach’s Art of Fugue.

The Financial Times described Aimard as “a ferociously intelligent musician, and full of sharp insights,” and his sovereignty in the fields of contemporary music and Bach is internationally acknowledged. To have four such opportunities, to present an important new work like Benjamin’s to as many new audiences, is the kind of honor bestowed nowadays on only the most esteemed performers. After September’s U.S. premiere in Cleveland, the Akron Beacon-Journal wrote: “Aimard … is a whiz at contemporary music and a communicative performer no matter what he plays,” and went on to describe Benjamin’s Duet as “an intriguing and skillfully crafted work,” before concluding: “This compelling performance by soloist and orchestra deserves many more listenings.” The New York premiere represents a dream come true!

Aimard’s solo recital the previous night (February 5) presents Elliot Carter’s music in the context of J.S. Bach’s great Art of Fugue. During his Carnegie Hall “Perspectives” series two seasons ago, Aimard closed his final Zankel Hall recital with the impromptu world premiere of Caténaires, a work Elliott Carter had just composed for him – the New York Times promptly pronounced it “an insistent, rich-textured, unabashedly virtuosic roller coaster of a piece.” Now two years on, New Yorkers once again have the opportunity to hear Aimard end a Zankel Hall solo recital with this same work.

Elliot Carter is featured again, when, after these back-to-back performances at Carnegie Hall, Aimard heads to Chicago for another solo recital, this time at Symphony Hall on February 8. Now Carter’s Night Fantasies is coupled with works by Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Messiaen, and Bartók, whose music figures prominently in two other Aimard projects. February 17 sees the release of his Deutsche Grammophon recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos, with Pierre Boulez conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, and May brings Aimard back to New York, for performances of Bartók’s piano concertos with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall.

This flurry of activity caps off a tremendously successful season, in which Aimard won critical acclaim for his performances and artistic directorship of “From the Canyons to the Stars,” the Southbank Centre’s year-long Olivier Messiaen festival in London that ended in December 2008. In October 2008, Aimard released a new solo recording, Hommage à Messiaen, an incredible collection of the legendary French composer’s piano music. Naming it Gramophone’s “Disc of the Month” in the magazine’s November 2008 issue, Arnold Whittall wrote: “I’ll be surprised if a more accomplished centenary tribute to Messiaen appears than this one … . Aimard’s technical virtuosity comes through in the evenness of his voicing and the pearly delicacy with which Messiaen’s intricate ornamental writing is projected.”

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Thursday, February 5 at 7:30 pm
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Bach: Canons Nos. 1 & 2 from The Art of Fugue
Carter: Two Diversions
Bach: Rectus Inversus No. 12 from The Art of Fugue
Carter: Night Fantasies
Bach: Canons Nos. 4 & 3 from The Art of Fugue
Carter: Retrouvailles
Carter: Matribute
Carter: 90+
Bach: Rectus Inversus No. 13 from The Art of Fugue
Carter: Intermittences
Carter: Caténaires

Friday, February 6 at 8 pm
Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst
Benjamin: Duet for piano and orchestra (NY premiere)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”)

Sunday, February 8 at 3 pm
Symphony Center, Chicago
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Schumann: Gesänge der Frühe (Early Morning Songs)
Chopin: Berceuse in D-flat major
Debussy: Suite bergamasque
Messiaen: “L’alouette lulu” from Catalogue d’oiseaux
Carter: Night Fantasies
Bartók: Out of Doors

Glenn Petry
21C Media Group
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New York, NY 10019
(212) 625-2038

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