‘The title Duet is precisely correct.  An intimate chamber-music atmosphere pervades the 15-minute work, scored for small orchestra minus violins, and the piece unfolds as a collaborative give-and-take.
An imaginative exploration of instrumental timbre, Duet seeks to blur distinctions between piano and orchestra.  Rather than struggle against each other, as in many concerts, the two forces set about finding common ground. 
The overlaps are spine tingling.  Anyone listening with closed eyes could easily conflate piano and woodblock, piano and trombone, harp and bass, instrument that usually function as polar opposites.  Welser-Möst led with cool, unobtrusive authority, and the orchestra responded with tonal purity.  Aimard often playing single notes was a sensitive, vibrant partner, confirming Duet as an experiment worth repeating.’
The Plain Dealer (Zachary Lewis), 27 September 2008
‘George Benjamin’s Duet, his new work for pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and the Cleveland Orchestra, sounds like no other piece he has ever written – and no other piano concerto in the repertoire. Its premiere at the Lucerne festival, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, revealed music of startling concentration. Duet plays for just 13 minutes, but its expressive and emotional effects are on the largest scale.
…Benjamin signals his intentions right from the start in a terse solo for Aimard, whose crystalline two-part writing cascades into a spiky tutti for the orchestra. The orchestral palette is reduced to a soundworld that matches and amplifies the piano’s sonority. Benjamin often pares the piano writing down to single lines, and Aimard duetted with the harp, the timpani, and the disembodied sound of the four double-basses playing high, whistle-like harmonics.
Instead of virtuosic figuration, Benjamin’s piano in Duet produces bell-like chimes in the slower music and laser-like clarity in the faster writing. Most strikingly of all, in the centre of the work, Benjamin writes music of stark intensity, distilled to its essentials: individual notes and chords in the piano part and ghostly flickers of string writing, with staccato tremors in the cellos and harmonics in the violas. There was a physical sense of the music being wrenched into another dimension.’
The Guardian (Tom Service), 2 September 2008
‘Benjamin’s Duet, a Roche commission, is as beguiling as it is brief (about 15 minutes) and underlines the differences between piano and orchestra.  Lyrical, uncluttered solos of no great virtuosity are juxtaposed against dazzlingly intricate orchestral passages… Pierre-Laurent Aimard – the soloist for whom the piece was written – and the orchestra relished Benjamin’s cleansing textures.’
The Sunday Times (Hugh Canning), 7 September 2008