NY Premiere of George Benjamin’s Duet with Piano and Orchestra February 6th
George Benjamin is a British composer who studied with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire during the second half of the 1970s. His latest work, Duet for piano and orchestra was originally premiered in the UK by the Cleveland Orchestra with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, as well as performances in the US and at Switzerland ’s Lucerne Festival, London ’s BBC Proms, and in Cleveland , respectively. Finally the piece comes to New York 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.
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."
In an interview on YouTube, George Benjamin describes the piece as a flock of starlings, using the orchestra to move through the sound world as a single entity, occasionally taking on brief sections which are very melodic and tonal and then moving into a complex section which are layered and multi-faceted. The only piece of Benjamin's I have heard is his viola duet Viola, viola, which resembles Iannis Xenakis. There are also elements of late Messiaen in the complex layers of sound with moments of tonal bursts. For lovers of this style of music, the concert should be real treat.