Bob Shingleton, in a characteristically trenchant post on the corporate rodomontade surrounding the 2012 Olympics, mentions, in passing, a peculiarity of the Aldeburgh Festival in its present form: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who just completed his fourth year as artistic director, exhibits a "reluctance to engage" with the music of Benjamin Britten, without whom the Aldeburgh Festival would not exist. Bob adds a link to a short item I wrote about Aimard's Mostly Mozart appearances in 2010. Having not been to Aldeburgh since 2000, I can't pass judgment on the current state of the festival, but the critical consensus gives a generally positive impression: the programming has been infused with the old-guard modernists whom Aimard reveres, while Britten and older classics are still regularly performed. The juxtaposition of different schools of twentieth-century style — from Finzi to Cage — must be bracing. Yet, according to the brochures, not one note of Britten has been executed by the artistic director himself. Isn't this more than a little strange? Aimard has explained in interviews that he is "not a Britten specialist." That's nonsense; if he can play Mozart, Schubert, Bartók, and Stravinsky, he can play Britten. Shouldn't he at least give the music a try, as a sign of respect? What has happened to this pianist's sense of intellectual adventure? Whether or not Aimard takes the plunge, Aldeburgh shan't lack for Britten next year, as a beta version of the Britten 100 site shows. Among the offerings: Peter Grimes on the beach.
Update: Bob Shingleton has warm words for a recent multimedia project by Aimard.