Pierre-Laurent Aimard returns with a program typical of his boundless thoughtfulness.
Each work on the program combines two elements of formal musical style in ways that were revolutionary for their period. Beginning with an “echo” fantasia by the Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, we hear the combination of free-style playing, or “fantasy,” with baroque improvisation. Contemporary English composer George Benjamin’s enigmatic work Shadowlines, a piece written for Mr. Aimard, combines strict canonic form with more improvisatory preludes; Beethoven’s A-Major sonata, Op. 101, likewise makes use of canonic writing. Following intermission, Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, perhaps the last great Romantic piece written for piano, hews to sonata form while displaying contrapuntal elements. Finally, Beethoven’s penultimate piano sonata, Op. 110 in A-flat Major, embodies sonata form and culminates in a stirring fugue.