“To listen to Aimard in action is to feel the gears of a composition mesh in new ways. It’s to hear the urgency and beauty in music that might otherwise sound grating or remote.”Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, June 2022
Widely acclaimed as a key figure in the music of our time, Pierre-Laurent Aimard has had close collaborations with many leading composers including György Ligeti, Karlheinz Stockhausen, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez and Oliver Messiaen.
Aimard begins the 2022/23 season by receiving Denmark’s most prominent music award, the Leonie Sonning Music Prize 2022, which will be celebrated in a series of concerts with Royal Danish Orchestra/Cambreling and recitals in Copenhagen and Aarhus. Elsewhere he continues to work closely with leading orchestras and conductors across Europe, including Antwerp Symphony/Herreweghe, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest/Deneve, Deutsche Symphony Orchester Berlin/Chan, Orchestre National de Lille/Bloc and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He continues his collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen, recording Bartók’s complete piano concertos due for release in Autumn 2023, and returns to Los Angeles Philharmonic for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4.
In celebration of György Ligeti’s 100th Anniversary in 2023, Aimard will perform works by the composer in collaborations throughout the season, including, Seoul Philharmonic/Robertson for his Concerto for Piano; acclaimed German Jazz pianist, Michael Wollny on an improvisatory project around the Etudes and continuing to celebrate the composer through his unique recital programming.
In other chamber projects, highlights include collaborations with Tamara Stefanovich for Visions de l’Amen at the Boulez Saal and continued partnerships with Mark Simpson and Jean-Guihen Queyras for trio recitals including works by Lachenmann in Luxembourg and Vienna. Together with Isabelle Faust and Jorg Widmann, Aimard joins Queryas for Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps touring the work across Spain in the Autumn.
Orchestral successes of the 2021/22 season included collaborations with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Chung, Munich Philharmonic/Nagano, Bamberger Symphoniker/Honeck, Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Stasevska, hr-Sinfonieorchester/Altinoglu, Wiener Symphoniker/Afkham and the World Premiere of Klaus Ospald’s concerto with WDR/Poppe. In recital and chamber projects, Aimard continued to champion contemporary composers, performing works by Birtwistle, Lachenmann, Cage, Schoenberg and Andre in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt as well as Messiaen’s colossal Vingt Regards in Paris and Amsterdam. In the UK highlights included Saffron Walden for Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier and the Edinburgh Festival to perform his Fantasy recital programme.
Having recently released a new disc of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata and Eroica Variations for Pentatone to great critical acclaim, Aimard releases a new recording of Visions de l’Amen with Tamara Stefanovich in September 2022. Recent seasons have also included Messiaen’s opus magnum Catalogue d’oiseaux which was honoured with multiple awards including the prestigious German music critic’s award ‘Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik’. Aimard has also performed the world premieres of piano works by Kurtág at Teatro alla Scala; Carter’s last piece Epigrams, which was written for him; Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s works Responses; Sweet disorder and the carefully careless and Keyboard Engine for two pianos which received its London premiere in autumn 2019.
Through his professorship at the Hochschule Köln as well as numerous series of concert lectures and workshops worldwide, Aimard sheds an inspiring light on music of all periods. He was previously an Associate Professor at the College de France, Paris and is a member of Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste. In spring 2020, he re-launched a major online resource ‘Explore the Score’, after several years work, which centres on the performance and teaching of Ligeti’s piano music in collaboration with the Klavier-Festival Ruhr.
Highlights of 2020/21 included a position as ‘Artist in Resonance’ for Musikkollegium Winterthur where he celebrated a number of different composers over the season and opened with the complete cycle of Beethoven Piano Concertos. Other highlights included recitals in Paris for Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier and appearances at Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen for Birtwistle’s Keyboard Engine for two pianos and the BBC Proms for Ravel’s Concerto in G Major alongside Sir George Benjamin and Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
Having recently released a new disc of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata and Eroica Variations for Pentatone to great critical acclaim, Aimard is also due to release a new recording of Visions de l’Amen with Tamara Stefanovich in 2022. Recent seasons have also included the release of Messiaen’s opus magnum Catalogue d’oiseaux for Pentatone, which was honoured with multiple awards including the prestigious German music critic’s award “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.”
HarrisonParrott represents Pierre-Laurent Aimard for worldwide general management.
“Tremendous. […] Aimard’s hands began to fade into a barely visible blur as he tore through the maniacally paced passagework.”
“I consider him the most perfect interpreter of Messiaen in recent decades […]: spectacular.”
“A terrific disc. Unmissable”
“To grasp the full scope of Bartók’s piano music, in all its gritty lyricism and angular, percussive splendour, it helps to have an artist on hand like the French keyboard virtuoso Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Sometimes it can even feel indispensable
Aimard, and particularly his distinctive gift for the craggier corners of the piano repertoire, is the key to this undertaking. He’s a performer of obvious technical prowess, who throws himself into the virtuoso aspects of a work without letting it crowd out other elements. He boasts a keyboard touch that is somehow both steely and delicate, like an iron fist inside a velvet glove.”
“What distinguishes Aimard’s account — this goes, too, for the far from meagre ‘filler’, the exuberant Eroica Variations — is that it is free from idiosyncrasy, so that one spends no energy in noting his negotiation of the huge spans of three of the movements, but remains wholly absorbed in Beethoven’s shocking and alarming creation.”
“Aimard is entirely at home in a work he’s played many times and his crystalline performance here was dynamically alert, rhythmically incisive, and sensitively integrated with the delicate textures of Ravel’s bravura orchestration”
“But the most remarkable feature of Aimard’s playing is the consistency of his technique. In each movement, an unbroken fabric of piano sound is immediately established, frenetic in the first movement, legato in the second, prickly in the third, over which Aimard can then add his expressive insights.”
“Another old friend, the pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, was the soloist in Ravel’s G major Concerto. Benjamin and the orchestra set the tone of the performance with effervescently transparent textures, while Aimard’s playing had the hard-edged sparkle of cut glass. And to complete the belated birthday homage, his encore was Benjamin’s Relativity Rag, which deconstructs a two-part rag into shards of chromaticism, before reassembling the bits into a brief reminder of the original, with its tongue always firmly in its cheek.”
“In other words, Aimard brings this music blazingly, resoundingly to life.”
“But Mr. Aimard’s overarching agenda, connecting Beethoven’s music, in his 250th birthday year, to strands of 20th-century modernism, came through with clarity, attesting to the strength of his vision and the savvy of his juxtapositions…The roiling, abrupt ending of the “Moonlight” led, without pause, to the dark, wet sounds — like the autumn leaves I was crushing underfoot — of another section from Messiaen’s “Oiseaux,” “La Chouette Hulotte” (“The Tawny Owl”). The ferocious ending of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata was immediately followed by the similarly pounding opening chords of Stockhausen’s “Klavierstück IX.”
“This was Beethoven the eternal modern and revolutionary in all his fire and glory… Aimard’s most telling effects lay in his mastery of grinding dissonances, a turbulent flow and the madcap whirl of fleeting quotations from American hymns, patriotic songs and Ives’s catalogue…. Above all, as in the Hammerklavier, Aimard continually nurtured the sonata’s long span, embracing the composer’s disruptive power while respecting the need for elements to build; for the music, however chaotic, to make “sense”. Without that structural strength, the audience surely wouldn’t have clapped so loudly, or felt so uplifted and transformed.”
“1808 Reconstructed never attempted to mimic “period” styles, but with Aimard you could sense the desire to capture something of the suspenseful excitement of Beethoven’s own performances… we had an elegant attack and clean-limbed articulation, rising to a spiky, angular urgency in the first-movement cadenza. If the ghostly figures of the Andante lacked a little mystery, the closing rondo leaped and twirled with ravishing lucidity and perfectly-judged balance between piano and orchestra.”
“Aimard, a true aristocrat, offered playing of great clarity gilded with a tasteful sense of rubato. His touch was lightness itself when called for. At other times he gripped the lip of the piano with his left hand to lend weight to earth-shattering runs in the right.”
“This was playing of jaw-dropping virtuosity, infused with that ineffable quality that raises less than one-in-a-hundred musical experiences into the realm of the sublime.”
“Aimard and Stefanovich muted those doubts, building up a cathedral out of stained-glass colours, piano tracery, rhythmic vaults, and thick trunks of sound. A Messiaen chord is a crystalline, faceted thing, full of internal symmetries that shimmer and glint. Just one would be enough to contemplate for a while, a snowflake on a fingertip. Instead, they come in flurries, piling up before your ear. […] To hear them play Visions is like listening with superpowered ears, each detail magnified and limpid, and at the same time arranged into an expressive structure.”
“He had you running to keep up with polyrhythmic complexities, the hyperactive layering of material, the fleeting moments of congruence and dispersal, and the mind-bending invention. You wonder how anyone can get the notes under two hands, then wonder all the more that all these elements combine to go to the heart of modernism, presenting extremes of tragedy, desperation, bafflement, fantasy and alienation, all expressed in a ferocious humanity. The Queen Elizabeth Hall was packed for Aimard’s miraculous exposé of human and instrumental engineering.”
“The masterly French musician divided his recital Tuesday night at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center between Beethoven’s Opus 106 and a selection of piano pieces by the great Hungarian modernist Gyorgy Ligeti that pose formidable technical and intellectual demands of their own. It was in every respect a triumphant conclusion to this season’s University of Chicago Presents Ligeti series, a series built around the participation of Aimard, who was Ligeti’s preferred interpreter of his keyboard works […] What Aimard delivered was deeply satisfying, a “Hammerklavier” those lucky enough to hear it will long remember.… Aimard is among the greats of his generation.“
“It was a wonderfully intelligent performance, which carefully probed the deeper resonances of a work that some still perceive as flippant. Aimard dazzled with his dexterity in the outer movements, but the strikingly weighty tone he adopted for the adagio exposed a streak of dark, troubling melancholy beneath the wistful surface poise.”
“…stunned into silence by the level of compositional invention and the surpassing artistry required to convey it….. Aimard’s prodigious technique allows you to hear not the work behind the work of art but its poetry…Aimard’s performance had extraordinary power and clarity, undimmed throughout. It also had the requisite range of shades and tints, without a trace of self-indulgence or overdone sentiment.”
“At once mystic and blatantly sensual, the work is coloured by the performing styles of its creators: Aimard took Messiaen’s original role with its weight and emotional insistence, while Stefanovich tackled the volatile and immensely taxing music composed for Loriod. Both pianists bring impeccable precision and clarity to Messiaen and the result was at once both profoundly intimate and monumental, as austerity gave way to sensuousness, before the cycle culminated in the cosmic grandeur and ecstasy of the final Amen de la consummation. It was quite simply impossible to imagine it better done.”
“He powered his way through it with a combination of commitment and deep sincerity, breathtakingly realising the sensuousness with which Messiaen conveys his metaphysical vision. A devotional serenity pervaded both the opening Regard du Père and the penultimate Je Dors, Mais Mon Coeur Veille, … Towards the end, Aimard seemed not so much to be playing the music as living it. … The final phrases plunged into an awestruck silence that seemed to last forever before the applause began.”
“This is manifestly a great work, and Aimard’s stupendous technique, remorseless energy and fanatical…passion, were wondrous to encounter.”
“Pierre-Laurent Aimard was the unfussily stylish soloist in Couleurs de la cité celeste. … Beautifully voiced brass chorales were punctuated here by coruscating solos from Aimard.”
“Aimard has a level of command and understanding to which resistance is futile. … With its extravagant imagery and hallucinatory narrative, this had been the musical equivalent of the Book of Revelation, and Pierre-Laurent Aimard was its high priest.”
“Yet the even more intense experience came with Ligeti’s Piano Concerto, with the festival’s artistic director Pierre-Laurent Aimard as the formidable soloist. Every facet of this score emerged with the utmost clarity and immediacy: its tantalising polyrhythms, its luminosity, its haunting quality, and finally, its hell-for-leather finale.”
“Chiselled and glittering, Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s piano cascades and avian flights knocked us sideways.”
“It was hard to imagine Ravel’s wrist-wrecking and finger-crunching solo part being better played than this.”