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Do we need yet another recording of Carter's "Night Fantasies"?? No I doubt it, although Aimard is such a wonderful performer, sensitive to the music's context, intellectual to all the vagaries,timbres and forms of modernist expression that it is indeed difficult to merely ignore and skate across this CD. Yes "Night Fantasies" is a very good work,a master-work for some probing the whys and wherefors of the Master Signifiers in Music; typical Carter with his interst in cross-referencing of materials, cloistered chorals, 'fugitive' filigree fast furioso wistful lines as interruptions, points of differing,differed timbre, cross diagonal poly-rhythms,telescoping of "what-is-to-come" expansion,more time expended,(longer metrical values) contractions of time,of gesture, of moment, modulations of pulse,so you know something some materials are changing and transforming themselves, all this/these technical aspects has its curiosity and I am sure Carter's music is studied late night within the cloistered preserved citadels of academia,(I can smell the high ceilinged wood beams,gables and cathedral like and white, vanilla hued plastered walls)but this is a rare piece of music for Carter,for he had a need to write a piece going back to the genre of the "nocturne" of the introspection contained in/of Schumann,the private gaze into oneself, and as extroverted as many of the moments are here,the piece suggests something beyond itself,perhaps the genre of musical history explored and re-explored. I think Aimard understands this at some level judging from his rather self-conscious comments,(included here on another CD and we really cannot say that for all the pianists who have played this work, many we will never know.
Likewise Ravel's three movement phantasy here has wonderful,points, a work also based upon contractions and expansions of time,floating,gesticulating,summoning imagery across time/ Aimard treats Ravel's advanced timbre like nature,as a labyrinth to enter, to proclaim like something erupting from beneath a place, perhaps below the piano,all with technical clarity,and Aimard sacrifices the pulse if it means a poetic moment that we will remember.
Likewise the two piano studies here more Carter the "90+" with its array of contrasting struck and sustained moments, the articulations for students hopefully and the "Two Diversions" is great stuff to begin of the modern repertoire, But not a place to simply begin and END with Carter but go on to explore other more interesting parts of the repertoire. Of course the highlight on this 2 CD box is Aimard commenting on all that is played, and his imagery and the factual background I thought was a bit self-conscious,with coangulated,arduous phrasings,and overlabored metaphorical references,perhaps the three languages does that,English, French and German; the content looses something in translation.