Shadowlines - six canonic preludes for piano


by George Benjamin

solo piano
Happily commissioned by Betty Freeman
First Performance
13.2.03, Barbican Hall, London: Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Score 0-571-52248-3 on sale from

Programme Notes

This sequence of pieces, all canons in different ways, was conceived as a continuous, cumulative structure: 1) A brief, seemingly improvisatory prologue. 2) The high register, fierce and harshly chromatic, against the lower, which is consonant and calm; a compact coda reconciles these opposites. 3) A miniature scherzo, all within the space of 11/2 octaves in the bass, leading immediately to: 4) Explosive and monolithic, the pianist’s hands perpetually rifting apart then re-uniting in rhythmical unison. 5) The most expansive and lyrical movement; at its heart a slow ground-bass, over which builds a widely contrasted procession of textures. After a short pause: 6) A simple and gentle epilogue. This work was written for Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and was commissioned by Betty Freeman. George Benjamin

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Faber Music at the 2015 Aldeburgh Festival

Featuring no fewer than six Faber composers, this summer’s Aldeburgh Festival looks set to be particuarly vibrant and stimulating. George Benjamin will be Artist-in-Residence, appearing as conductor, pianist and curator in what will be the largest UK retrospective of his work since the Southbank Centre’s ‘Jubilation’ festival in 2012. Read more

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