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Aimard: Schubert CD (this Fri), Schoenberg in Salzburg & Edinburgh (Aug)

(May 2024) — This Friday, May 24 brings the release of Schubert: Ländler, a collection of solo
piano dance miniatures representing the most recent Pentatone release from Pierre-Laurent
Aimard. “A brilliant musician and an extraordinary visionary” (Wall Street Journal), the
Grammy-winning French pianist features selections from the new album – just named one of “the
best classical albums of 2024 so far” by The Times of London – in a live solo recital in Norway,
before embarking on a full summer of performances in Europe. Highlights include two solo
recitals and a concerto collaboration to celebrate this year’s Schoenberg sesquicentennial at the
Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals (Aug 6; Aug 18 & 21); Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie
with the Dresden Staatskapelle (June 9–11); two Mozart concertos in the Lille Piano Festival’s
Mozart Marathon” (June 15 & 16); and a complete recital of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier,
Book II in Graz (July 7). Click here to hear an excerpt from Schubert: Ländler.

Schubert: Ländler: new Pentatone release, May 24

Since becoming an exclusive Pentatone artist in 2018, Aimard has already made a series of
critically acclaimed recordings for the label. These include a complete Bartók concerto cycle with
Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, a finalist for the 2024 International Classical
Music “Concerto” Award, and Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux, winner of the prestigious German
Music Critics’ Prize.

Now Pentatone releases Aimard’s new solo album, Schubert: Ländler, this Friday, May 24.
Named for the Austro-German folkdances once enjoyed at social gatherings, the collection
comprises more than 100 short dances by Franz Schubert. These rustic waltzes and folkdances
are deceptive in their simplicity, enriched by the composer’s characteristically bittersweet
harmonies and haunting lyricism.

Aimard, who finds kinship between these miniatures and those of modernist masters Anton
Webern and György Kurtág, avoids almost all repetition on the new collection. He explains:

“In these pieces of singular brevity, Schubert manages to plunge us into the heart of the sweetness,
ambiguity, and vertigo of the realm between life and death. Isn’t it fascinating that the master of
the long form also excelled in the field of miniatures? These pages, or rather these lines, offer the
pinnacle of intimacy in music, and invite us into an interior, fragile, and personal universe. The
pace that I am proposing, avoiding almost any repetition, is perhaps more of a sleepwalker’s
journey than a series of dances. This approach aims to bear witness to the irreplaceable place of
the intimate in our world – and that of vulnerability, tenderness, and secrecy.”

Schubert: Ländler captures Aimard’s Schubert interpretations on the same Steinway grand heard
on many of the Czech Philharmonic’s most iconic 20th-century recordings. In its glowing review,
The Times of London writes:

Aimard’s approach to these miniature jewels is entirely suitable and rewarding. He
shapes and shades the notes with poise and subtle inflections, yet nothing becomes
overdone, precious or brittle. The 70-year-old Steinway he plays (we’re given its exact model
number) is equally special, with a particularly bright upper register perfect for spotlighting the
intimacy and vulnerability of Schubert’s melodies, as fragile and beautiful as butterflies as they
flit over the keyboard with a lifespan of 30 or 40 seconds. Under the authentic Schubert spell, I
would happily have listened on for much longer.

Next week, Aimard gives a live performance of selected Schubert Ländler and waltzes in a solo
recital at Norway’s Bergen International Festival (May 28).

Schoenberg at 150: Salzburg (Aug 6), Edinburgh (Aug 18 & 21), and beyond

Throughout his career, Aimard has won praise for adventurously curated programs that draw
connections between music of radically different eras and styles. Both of his May festival
appearances juxtapose Schubert’s dances with one of the earliest twelve-tone works by Arnold
Schoenberg. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the great Austrian American composer’s
birth, and his music figures prominently in Aimard’s current programming. Earlier this spring,
after attending a collaboration between Aimard and the Berlin Radio Symphony, Seen and Heard
International pronounced his interpretation of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto “outstanding, …
probably the best I have heard live – and a match for the best on record.” As for the
performance of Schoenberg’s Six Little Piano Pieces, with which the pianist made his encore, Seen
and Heard found it “clear-sighted, unsentimental, but imbued with true sentiment in every

This summer, Aimard reprises Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with the Royal Scottish National
Orchestra and Elim Chan at Scotland’s Edinburgh International Festival (Aug 18). At both the
Scottish festival (Aug 21) and Austria’s Salzburg Festival (Aug 6), he gives solo recitals to
celebrate the sesquicentennial, performing Schoenberg selections including the Three Piano
Pieces, one of the composer’s first forays into atonality; the Six Little Piano Pieces, a set of intense
micro-dramas; Five Piano Pieces, an early twelve-tone work; Two Piano Pieces, Schoenberg’s final
composition for solo piano; and the poetic Piano Variations by his student and colleague Anton
Webern. At both festivals, Aimard juxtaposes these Second Viennese School creations with
Schumann’s Gesänge der Frühe, three Brahms Intermezzi, and Scriabin’s “Black Mass” Sonata; in
Salzburg, his program also includes Ravel’s notoriously difficult Gaspard de la nuit, one of the
finest tone poems for piano.

Related recital programs featuring Schoenberg’s music take Aimard to Italy’s San Francesco
Church Asciano (July 28), Croatia’s Dubrovnik Summer Festival (July 30), and Finland’s
Mänttä Music Festival (Aug 3), while at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, he gives a solo program
of Schumann, Brahms, and Ravel (July 2).

Ives songs in Portugal; Bach in recital in Austria and Germany

With International Classical Music Award-winning soprano Anna Prohaska, Aimard gives a
recital of songs by Ives, Stravinsky, and Debussy at the 50th annual Espinho International
Music Festival in Portugal (July 19).

The pianist completes his recital lineup with two programs featuring the music of J.S. Bach,
whose music the pianist has studied in depth. His recording of The Art of Fugue was a phenomenal
critical and commercial success that topped both the Billboard and iTunes classical charts,

prompting The Times of London to wonder: “So, another Everest conquered by Pierre-Laurent
Aimard. What’s the next one going to be?” He went on to tackle Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier,
of which his Deutsche Grammophon recording of Book I was heralded as “a new benchmark
(NDR Radio, Germany). Now he performs the complete Book II in Graz, Austria (July 7) before
interweaving selections from both The Well-Tempered Clavier and The Art of Fugue with
contrasting selections from György Kurtág’s Játékok in Schwerin, Germany (Aug 25).

Messiaen and Mozart concertos in Germany and France

Like Kurtág, the late Olivier Messiaen is one of the modernist masters with whom Aimard
enjoyed especially close personal and professional ties. As a former student of Yvonne Loriod,
Messiaen’s wife, the pianist has championed his countryman’s music throughout his career,
proving himself “a peerless interpreter of Messiaen’s music” (Boston Globe). Earlier this spring,
his account of Des canyons aux étoiles with Matthias Pintscher and the Cincinnati Symphony was
hailed as “a thrilling performance, played with absolute authority” (Cincinnati Business
Courier). Next month, Aimard joins Germany’s Staatskapelle Dresden and its Principal Guest
Conductor Myung-Whun Chung for performances of Messiaen’s monumental
Turangalîla-Symphonie (June 9–11).

His final orchestral appearances of the season are at France’s Lille Piano Festival, which
celebrates its 20th anniversary season with a weekend-long “Mozart Marathon.” This sees
Aimard perform Mozart’s Fifth Piano Concerto with the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de
Wallonie, led from the violin by Jean-Frédéric Molard (June 15), before joining the Orchestre
National de Lille and Joshua Weilerstein for the composer’s 13th Piano Concerto (June 16).
Aimard’s way with Mozart’s concertos has inspired widespread, heartfelt praise. The
extraordinary, searching depths” he discovered in Mozart’s Ninth Piano Concerto impressed
The Guardian, while the New York Times admired the way he “brought subdued intensity to the
slow movement and impressive clarity to the ebullient finale” of Mozart’s 17th. His
interpretation of the same concerto prompted Bachtrack to marvel:

No-one knows how Mozart sounded when he played his own works, but it may well have
sounded like this. … What would it mean to call [Aimard’s] Mozart revelatory? What has he
revealed? Perhaps nothing more than that he should be considered, if he is not already, among the
best pianists and musicians of our time. Five stars.”

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard: Schubert: Ländler

Label: Pentatone
Formats: CD, streaming, and high-resolution downloads
Physical release date: May 2024
Digital release date: May 24, 2024

Selections from:
36 Originaltänze , Op. 9, D. 365
38 Waltzes, Ländler and Ecossaises, Op. 18, D. 145
18 German Dances and Ecossaises, Op. 33, D. 783
Galop and 8 Ecossaises, D. 735
Valses sentimentales , Op. 50, D. 779
17 Ländler, D. 366
4 Ländler, D. 814
Wiener-Damen Ländler und Ecossaisen, Op. 67, D. 734
12 Valses nobles, Op.77, D. 969
12 Graz Waltzes, Op. 91, D. 924
20 Waltzes, Op. 127, D. 146
12 German Dances, Op. 171, D. 790

Pierre-Laurent Aimard: upcoming engagements

May 28
Bergen, Norway
Bergen International Festival
Solo recital:
BACH: Partita No. 1 in B-flat, BWV 825
SCHOENBERG: Suite for piano, Op. 25
SCHUBERT: Ländler and Valses from D145, D146, D365, D779, D783, & D790
SCHUMANN: Carnaval, Op. 9

June 9–11
Dresden, Germany
Staatskapelle Dresden / Myung-Whun Chung
MESSIAEN: Turangalîla-Symphonie

June 15 & 16
Lille, France
Lille Piano Festival: “Mozart Marathon”

June 15
Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie / Jean-Frédéric Molard (leading from violin)
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 5 in D, K175

June 16
Orchestre National de Lille / Joshua Weilerstein
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 13 in C, K415

July 2
Copenhagen, Denmark
Tivoli Gardens
Solo recital:
RAVEL: Le tombeau de Couperin
SCHUMANN: Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133
BRAHMS: Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118, Nos. 1, 2, 4, & 5
RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit

July 7
Graz, Austria
Helmut List Halle
BACH: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II

July 19
Espinho, Portugal
Espinho International Music Festival
Recital with Anna Prohaska, soprano
IVES: Selections from 114 Songs and Eleven Songs
STRAVINSKY: Four Russian Peasant Songs; “Full Fadom Five” from Three Songs from William Shakespeare
DEBUSSY: Proses lyriques

July 28
Asciano, Italy
San Francesco Church Asciano
Solo recital:
RAVEL: Le tombeau de Couperin
SCHOENBERG: Suite for piano, Op. 25
SCHOENBERG: Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11
RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit

July 30
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik Summer Festival
Solo recital:
BRAHMS: Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118, Nos. 1, 2, & 4
SCHUMANN: Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133
SCHOENBERG: Two Piano Pieces, Op. 33
SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68, “Black Mass”
MESSIAEN: Le merle bleu
RAVEL: Le tombeau de Couperin

Aug 3
Mänttä, Finland
Mänttä Music Festival
Solo recital:
SCHOENBERG: Two Piano Pieces, Op. 33
BRAHMS: Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118, Nos. 1, 2, & 4
SCHOENBERG: Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23
SCHUMANN: Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133
SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68, “Black Mass”
SCHOENBERG: Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11
RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit

Aug 6
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Festival
Mozarteum Grosser Saal
Solo recital:
SCHOENBERG: Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11
SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68, “Black Mass”
RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit
WEBERN: Variations for Piano, Op. 27
SCHOENBERG: Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19
BRAHMS: Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118, Nos. 1, 2, & 4
SCHOENBERG: Two Piano Pieces, Op. 33
SCHUMANN: Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133
SCHOENBERG: Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23
SCHOENBERG: Suite for piano, Op. 25
RAVEL: Le tombeau de Couperin

Aug 18 & 21
Edinburgh, UK
Edinburgh International Festival

Aug 18
Usher Hall
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Elim Chan
SCHOENBERG: Piano Concerto, Op. 42

Aug 21
The Queens Hall
Solo recital:
BRAHMS: Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118, Nos. 1, 2, & 4
SCHOENBERG: Two Piano Pieces, Op. 33
SCHUMANN: Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133
SCHOENBERG: Five Piano Pieces, Op. 23
WEBERN: Variations for Piano, Op. 27
SCHOENBERG: Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19
SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68, “Black Mass”
SCHOENBERG: Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11

Aug 25
Schwerin, Germany
Mecklenburgisches Staatstheater
Solo recital:
BACH: The Well-Tempered Clavier (selections)
BACH: The Art of Fugue (selections)
György KURTÁG: Játékok (selections)

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© 21C Media Group, May 2024

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