“No pianist alive can rival this French maestro as an advocate for writing of this post-Messiaen kind.” – Independent, UK
Following his residency there five years ago, Pierre-Laurent Aimard returns to Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival for a trio of concerts celebrating the work of his longtime friend and collaborator George Benjamin (b. 1960). On August 13, he joins the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) for a late-night program showcasing Breathless for toy piano and pizzicato violin by Dai Fujikura (b. 1977), one of the English composer’s former students. Aimard and the ICE reunite on August 16 for accounts of Ligeti’s Piano Concerto and Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques, led by Benjamin himself. The relationships between these four modern masters are close and intertwined, Aimard having been Messiaen’s “adoptive son,” and Benjamin his composition student, while both have consistently championed the music of Ligeti, who considered Aimard his finest interpreter. For the pianist’s final Mostly Mozart appearance, a characteristically wide-ranging late-night solo recital on August 17, he complements Benjamin’s Shadowlines – a set of six canonic preludes conceived as a continuous, cumulative structure – with preludes by d’Anglebert, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, and Scriabin, as well as canons by Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Webern, Boulez, and Ligeti. Originally written for Aimard, Shadowlines is one of a number of Benjamin’s key compositions – the Duet for piano and orchestra among them – that Aimard has premiered and recorded. Making his musicianship accessible to a global audience, this solo recital has been selected for live webcast by medici.tv, and this as well as his August 13 Mostly Mozart performance will be livestreamed by Lincoln Center.
Ligeti Project: now live online
At last summer’s Ruhr Piano Festival, Aimard embarked on the Ligeti Project – his in-depth examination of the late Hungarian composer’s Études – and this past May saw the launch of a free, multilingual, interactive website, through which, as the UK’s Independent explains, “the extraordinary piano music of György Ligeti will be brought to a new and much wider audience.” Now, timed to coincide with his Ligeti performance at Mostly Mozart, Aimard’s new interactive score of the great modernist’s Musica ricercata No. 7 is scheduled to go live on August 16. The fruit of eight years’ labor, the interactive site was developed in close collaboration with the Ruhr Piano Festival’s Dr. Tobias Bleek, and draws on the intimate working relationship that Aimard shared with Ligeti from the 1980s until the composer’s death in 2006. It was he who premiered and made first recordings of a number of Ligeti’s piano compositions, winning a 1997 Gramophone Award for his Sony Masterworks album of the Études, and he who inspired some of the composer’s most complex writing. As a result, he remains without peer as an exponent of Ligeti’s music, blessed with uniquely privileged insights into the composer’s piano music and its inner workings. Designed, as the Independent notes, “both to help professional pianists deal with the challenges of Ligeti’s music, and demystify it for lay listeners,” the new portal has been recognized by The Guardian (UK) as “a significant online resource.”