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Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano

Thursday, March 8, 2018 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Pierre-Laurent Aiment by Marco Borggreve
Beethoven’s colossal “Hammerklavier” is the longest and perhaps the most complex of all his sonatas, with a slow movement of rare emotional depth (even by Beethoven’s standards) that prefigures Chopin in its ornamentation. The sonata juxtaposes explosive power, fragile tenderness, and earthy humor, capped by a double fugue that rivals Bach in a dazzling display of counterpoint. Pierre-Laurent Aimard—a pianist The Times (London) praised for “stupendous technique, remorseless energy, and fanatical … passion”—performs this masterpiece and more.


Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano


OBUKHOV Création d'or

OBUKHOV Révelation

LISZT Nuages gris, S. 199

LISZT Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este

MESSIAEN "Le Courlis Cendré" from Catalogue d'oiseaux

SCRIABIN Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 53

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier"


GYÖRGY KURTÁG "...waiting for Susan" from Játékok, Book VI

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

At a Glance

NICOLAS OBUKHOV  Création d’or; Révelation

A prominent figure in Paris’s Russian émigré community after World War I, Obukhov faded into obscurity after an injury curtailed his compositional activity in 1929. These two avant-garde works, dating from his student years in St. Petersburg, are stylistically positioned between Scriabin and Messiaen.


FRANZ LISZT  Nuages gris, S. 199; Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este

Liszt experimented with harmonies, forms, and sonorities that anticipated the musical languages of impressionism and modernism. These two works—the first as morbid as the second is joyously effervescent—date from the last decade of the composer’s life. Nuages gris has been described as “the gateway to modern music.”


OLIVIER MESSIAEN  “Le courlis cendré” from Catalogue d’oiseaux

A dedicated ornithologist, Messiaen meticulously transcribed bird songs and incorporated them into his music. This excerpt from his Catalogue of Birds evokes the piping of the curlew and the bleak beauty of the Brittany coast. Messiaen called birds a “symbol of freedom” and considered the sounds of nature “the only true music.”


ALEXANDER SCRIABIN  Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 53

Scriabin began his career as a Romantic composer-pianist in the Lisztian mold and ended it as a proto-modernist. The fifth of his 10 piano sonatas followed closely on the heels of his luxuriantly orchestrated Poem of Ecstasy. He described this compact, single-movement sonata as a “grand poem for piano.”


LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”

With its soaring rhetoric and penetrating introspection, the “Hammerklavier” Sonata anticipates the masterpieces of Beethoven’s late period. Critic Paul Bekker described its Adagio movement as “the apotheosis of pain, of that deep sorrow for which there is no remedy, and which finds expression not in passionate outpourings, but in the immeasurable stillness of utter woe.


Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Widely acclaimed as a key figure in the music of our time and a uniquely significant interpreter of piano repertoire from every age, Pierre-Laurent Aimard enjoys an internationally celebrated career. He was awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2017 in recognition of a life ...

Widely acclaimed as a key figure in the music of our time and a uniquely significant interpreter of piano repertoire from every age, Pierre-Laurent Aimard enjoys an internationally celebrated career. He was awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2017 in recognition of a life devoted to the service of music.

The 2017–2018 season sees the start of Mr. Aimard’s three-year tenure as an artist-in-residence at London’s Southbank Centre. During the first year, he performs Messiaen with the Aurora Orchestra, Mozart with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Ravel with the Philharmonia Orchestra. He also curates an entire weekend dedicated to the music of Ligeti, with whom he had a long association. Other highlights include recitals in Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Vienna, and New York, and at Berlin’s new Pierre Boulez Saal. Orchestral performances include concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, as well as a tour to Europe with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and a special Stockhausen project in Hamburg.

Mr. Aimard performs throughout the world each season with major orchestras under conductors who include Esa-Pekka Salonen, Peter Eötvös, Sir Simon Rattle, and Vladimir Jurowski. He has been invited to curate, direct, and perform in a number of residencies at Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Berlin’s Philharmonie, Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, Paris’s Cité de la musique, Mozarteum Salzburg, Southbank Centre, Lincoln Center, Tanglewood Music Festival, and Lucerne Festival. Mr. Aimard was the artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival from 2009 to 2016; his final season was marked by a performance of Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux, with concerts programmed from dawn to midnight.

Mr. Aimard has collaborated closely with many leading composers, including György Kurtág, George Benjamin, Stockhausen, Carter, and Boulez. Recent seasons have included the world premieres of Harrison Birtwistle’s piano concerto Responses: Sweet Disorder and the Carefully Careless, as well as Carter’s last work, Epigrams, for piano, cello, and violin, which was written for Mr. Aimard. Through his professorship at the Hochschule Köln and in concert lectures and workshops worldwide, Mr. Aimard sheds an inspiring and personal light on music of all periods.

Born in Lyon in 1957, Mr. Aimard studied at the Conservatoire de Paris with Yvonne Loriod and in London with Maria Curcio. Early career landmarks include winning first prize in the 1973 Messiaen Competition at the age of 16 and being appointed as Ensemble intercontemporain’s first solo pianist three years later.

Mr. Aimard was the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2005 Instrumentalist Award, and was also honored with ECHO Klassik awards and a Grammy Award in 2005 for his recording of Ives’s songs and “Concord” Sonata. Mr. Aimard was named Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America in 2007, and was presented with the Honorary Prize from the German Record Critics’ Award Association in 2009. His recent recording of works by Benjamin and Tristan Murail with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra won the 2017 Gramophone Award in the contemporary category.

Mr. Aimard has made many highly successful recordings. His first Deutsche Grammophon release, Bach: The Art of Fugue, received both the Diapason d’Or and Choc du Monde de la Musique awards, debuted at number one on Billboard’s classical chart, and topped the iTunes classical album download chart. Mr. Aimard recently signed an exclusive contract with Pentatone records; his first recording with the label—the complete Catalogue d’oiseaux—is set for release this spring.

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