Stories » Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays George Benjamin's - Shadowlines uniting prelude and canon / The New York Times

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Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays George Benjamin's - Shadowlines uniting prelude and canon / The New York Times

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It was appropriate that Pierre-Laurent Aimard, one of our most lucid, instructive pianists, gave a solo recital late Monday evening in the form of a class. But this wasn't one of those dry high school lectures you snoozed through or skipped.

Part of the intimate A Little Night Music series at the Kaplan Penthouse, which has proved a boon for Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart festival, the concert felt more like your favorite college seminar, the teacher droll and creative, the subject fascinating. The topic was George Benjamin, Mostly Mozart's composer in residence this summer and the creator of the opera "Written on Skin," which had its American stage premiere at the festival last week.

In 2001, Mr. Benjamin wrote "Shadowlines," a series of six "canonic preludes," for Mr. Aimard, who recorded the piece in 2004. Blending the rigor of the canon form with the impressionistic, improvisatory personality of the prelude, the six short works have this composer's customary elegance, his paradoxical precise ambiguity, his gift for swiftly distilling mood. Complex, "Shadowlines" never feels anything but clear.

Interspersing his playing with helpful commentary, Mr. Aimard introduced "Shadowlines," six combinations of canon and prelude, with six of each of those two kinds of compositions, giving a concise preview of both halves of the Benjamin work's centaur construction.  READ THE FULL New York Times REVIEW