Carnegie Hall, anyone?

It was incredible. Pierre-Laurent Aimard on piano playing pieces from three different centuries:

Bach: Contrapunctus I-XI from “The Art of the Fugue”
Schoenberg: Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23
Beethoven: Sonata No. 31 in A flat Major, Opus 110

followed by encores of Elliott Carter's Caténaires and another selection from "The Art of the Fugue".

Carnegie Hall itself is vast and simple, not the ornate visual overload of some theaters. Beneath the tall dome sits the piano, alone in the spotlight. We had the nosebleed seats, that left me weak-kneed when looking straight over the edge. But I soon settled cozily into my 10 inches of leg room, reminding myself that I'm trying to improve my posture.

The Bach fugues started simply, with your basic fugue, then progressing with each piece building in complexity until you have a double, and then a triple fugue. It was 45 minutes of fugue heaven.

After the intermission, we moved into the 20th Century, with some of Schoenberg's first atonal pieces. Aside from the encore, this was definitely the highlight for me. I love the sound of atonal piano pieces, absolutely riveting.

Next was the Beethoven, which ended with the final movement going in and out of fugues, bringing us back full circle.

The absolute best, though, was the Carter encore. The audience was completely spellbound by this piece, which was written specifically for Aimard, and the second it was finished everyone was cheering wildly. Carter himself says this of the piece, "When Pierre – Laurent Aimard, who performs so eloquently, asked me to write a piece for him, I became obsessed with the idea of a fast one line piece with no chords. It became a continuous chain of notes using different spacings, accents, and colorings, to produce a wide variety of expression." As soon as this comes out on record, you can bet I'll be there to buy.

Afterwards, my brother, Andrew, his wife, Kristal, my dad, and I discussed the show over Chilean sea bass and braised chicken, and left the city contended and reminded that beauty can still surprise us in new music.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Wow, it's been so long since I've seen a post here, I didn't see the latest flurry of activity. Kind of like my blog! :-)

Yes, this was an amazing piano concert wasn't it? The Carter was incredible, and it was a privilege to see such an adept pianist throw down on it.

So have you been listening to the Rzewski? I have listened to it through time and time again (it helped I have spent 13 hours on a plane in the past week!). You need to get all the tracks, it's really awesome to listen to all the way through, no easy feat for an hour long piece, but well worth it.