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Pierre-Laurent Aimard in 2023-24: “Ligeti 100” Tributes with NY Phil & in London, Tokyo & Beyond; U.S. Solo Recital Tour; Messiaen in Cincinnati; New Bartók Album with SFS; & More

(August 2023) — During his lifetime, György Ligeti was a key source of inspiration for Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Over the coming season, the Grammy-winning French pianist continues honoring Ligeti with performances of the late composer’s Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic and Susanna Malkki (Nov 2–4), a solo recital in the Philharmonic’s “Artist Spotlight” series (Nov 7), and further concerto and recital engagements in London, Amsterdam, Tokyo and beyond. The pianist returns to the States for thoughtfully curated solo recitals exploring the keyboard fantasy in Philadelphia (Feb 23), Chicago (Feb 25) and San Francisco (Feb 27), followed by accounts of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles with Matthias Pintscher and the Cincinnati Symphony (March 1 & 2). Aimard’s other 2023-24 highlights include orchestral Messiaen collaborations in Paris and Berlin; a four-city Asian solo recital tour; and two European tours showcasing Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto. Made with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, his new recording of all three Bartók piano concertos is due for release by Pentatone in September.

Honoring Ligeti at 100 in New York City, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo and beyond

This year marks the centennial of the birth of György Ligeti, with whom Aimard shared an intimate working relationship until the Hungarian composer’s death in 2006. In a recent essay for VAN magazine, Aimard describes his late friend as “the epitome of a polyglot and a free spirit,” whose music is “irresistible in its visual poetry and the power of its gestural, formal, rhythmic and tonal influence.” This admiration was mutual. Ligeti considered Aimard “today’s leading interpreter of contemporary piano music,” and dedicated several of his Études to the pianist, who won a Gramophone Award for his recording of the complete set. Indeed, critics have consistently recognized Aimard’s way with the composer’s work, hailing him as “the definitive interpreter of this technically fearsome keyboard writing” (The Guardian).

After spring and summer performances of Ligeti’s music in Berlin, Paris, Seoul and at the Aldeburgh, Ruhr and Salzburg festivals, Aimard continues paying international tribute to the great modernist this fall. In New York, he joins the New York Philharmonic under Susanna Malkki for accounts of Ligeti’s Piano Concerto (Nov 2–4), before juxtaposing selected Ligeti Études with works reflecting their cultural inspirations in the Philharmonic’s “Artist Spotlight” recital series (Nov 7).

In London, Aimard headlines Ligeti 100, a full day devoted to the composer at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, with an all-Ligeti solo recital of the Chromatische Phantasie, Musica ricercata and selected Études, followed by a rendition of the Piano Concerto with Vimbayi Kaziboni and the London Sinfonietta (Oct 14).

Aimard gives two more performances of Ligeti’s concerto, first at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw with Asko Schönberg (Oct 28) and then in Tokyo with Sylvain Cambreling leading the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (Dec 5). It was with the Asko Ensemble, one of the two Dutch chamber orchestras that merged to become today’s Asko Schönberg, that Aimard made his Grammy-nominated recording of the concerto in 2001.

In solo recitals at both Germany’s Essen Philharmonie (Sep 26) and the Ligeti Festival in Montreal’s Salle Bourgie (Nov 5), Aimard pairs selections from Ligeti’s Études and Musica ricercata with Bagatelles and Études by Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy. He also features the Musica ricercata in recital programs at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper (Sep 29) and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris (April 28), as well as including the Études in a duo recital with his regular piano partner, Tamara Stefanovich, in Zurich (Oct 1; see below).

Keyboard fantasy program in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Rome & more

Early next year, Aimard returns to the States for solo recitals in Chicago (Feb 25), San Francisco (Feb 27) and Philadelphia, where he pairs his performance with a masterclass (Feb 23). Spanning almost four centuries of music, Aimard’s programs deconstruct the keyboard fantasy, a genre whose improvisatory roots let its composers’ imaginations run free. In Chicago, he juxtaposes examples by Sweelinck, Mozart, C.P.E. Bach and Beethoven with George Benjamin’s Fantasy on Iambic Rhythm, and in San Francisco and Philadelphia with fantasies by Chopin, Elliott Carter and American experimentalist Charles Ives, who celebrates his sesquicentenary in 2024. After a similar exploration of the fantasia form in La Jolla, the San Diego Union Tribune marveled: “There have been few piano recitals this season so thoughtfully curated as the one that Pierre-Laurent Aimard gave. … A fascinating, unforgettable concert.” Likewise, after one of his fantasia programs at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Seen and Heard International reflected:

“Recitals by Pierre-Laurent Aimard are never going to be less than fascinating. His quick mind and questing spirit see to that. … If only all piano recitals showed this level of commitment to ideas, to the music of our time, to connecting threads across centuries.”

Aimard gives additional fantasy-themed solo recitals in France and Italy: in Nîmes (Dec 8), Avezzano (Feb 16) and Rome (Feb 17). His other 2023-24 solo recital highlights include a four-city Asian tour, with dates in Beijing (Nov 24), Xi’an (Nov 26), Shanghai (Nov 28) and at Tokyo’s Yamaha Hall (Dec 1); appearances including a masterclass in Florence (Feb 10–15); and performances of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in Homburg, Germany (Sep 21) and at Vienna’s Musikverein (Nov 16). His 2014 Deutsche Grammophon recording of the first volume of Bach’s masterpiece was proclaimed “a new benchmark” (NDR Radio, Germany) that “earned him a secure place among the masters” (Die Welt, Germany).

Messiaen in Cincinnati, Paris, Dresden & more

The late Olivier Messiaen is another 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). In the U.S. next spring, Aimard joins the Cincinnati Symphony and Matthias Pintscher for multimedia performances of Des canyons aux étoiles (“From the Canyons to the Stars”). Inspired by Messiaen’s visits to Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, the French composer’s epic, otherworldly masterpiece will be accompanied by immersive and evocative video art (March 1 & 2).

Later next spring, Aimard revisits two of Messiaen’s orchestral works with European orchestras, performing Oiseaux exotiques with Cristian Măcelaru and the Orchestre national de France (March 30) and the Turangalîla-Symphony – as heard on the pianist’s 2001 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic – with Myung-Whun Chung and the Staatskapelle Dresden (June 9–11). In both Aimard’s upcoming duo recitals with Tamara Stefanovich, in Zurich (Oct 1; see above) and Madrid (April 15), their program features Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen, as heard on the duo’s 2022 Pentatone release, Visions. In St. Pölten, Austria, the pianist reprises Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux in solo recital (May 1), following the success of his 2018 Pentatone recording of the work, which was one of the Sunday Times’s Best Albums of the Year, a Gramophone Editor’s Choice and a German Music Critics’ Award winner, while one track from the album was selected as one of the New York Times’s “25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2018.”

Bartók concertos on new SFS recording & live in Europe

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Aimard’s first Bartók concerto recording – made with Pierre Boulez, Stefanovich and the London Symphony Orchestra – was recognized with a Grammy nomination; to quote The Guardian, “In piano music like this he has no equal.” Now, Pentatone releases the complete Bartók concerto cycle he recorded over the last two years with the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen. Due for digital release on September 15 and physical release during that same month, the new album captures Aimard’s interpretations of the three concertos he considers “among the most demanding in the repertoire, due to their combination of instrumental challenge and musical significance.” As he puts it: “Their intensity is incandescent.”

In live performance, the Hungarian composer’s Third Piano Concerto figures prominently in Aimard’s fall programming. He plays it with two Hungarian orchestras, first with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra in Romania and Slovenia, at dates in Bucharest (Sep 8), Sibiu (Sep 9) and Maribor (Nov 10), and then with András Keller and the Concerto Budapest Symphony on a tour of the UK and Ireland, in Guildford (Sep 13), London (Sep 14), Cheltenham (Sep 15), Edinburgh (Sep 17) and Dublin (Sep 19). Aimard also revisits Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and Cambreling next spring (May 5).

In addition, the coming season sees Aimard perform Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with the Berlin Radio Symphony (March 9); Nono’s Como una ola de fuerza y luz with Milan’s La Scala Orchestra (Jan 22–25); and concertos by Ravel with the Czech Philharmonic (Dec 13–15) and State Orchestra of Lower Saxony (March 17 & 18).

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Bartók Piano Concertos
Recorded with the San Francisco Symphony & Esa-Pekka Salonen
Label: Pentatone
Physical release date (CD): Sep 2023
Digital release date (streaming & high-res downloads): Sep 15, 2023

2023-24 engagements
Sep 8 & 9: Concerts in Romania with Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra / István Várdai

Sep 8: Bucharest, Romania (Enescu Festival)

Sep 9: Sibiu, Romania
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 3

Sep 13–19: Tour with Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra / András Keller

Sep 13: Guildford, UK (G Live Guildford)

Sep 14: London, UK (Cadogan Hall)

Sep 15: Cheltenham, UK (Cheltenham Town Hall)

Sep 17: Edinburgh, UK (Usher Hall)

Sep 19: Dublin, Ireland (National Concert Hall Dublin)
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 3

Sep 21
Homburg, Germany
Saalbau Homburg
Solo recital
BACH: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II

Sep 26
Essen, Germany
Solo recital
LIGETI: Musica ricercata
BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles, Op. 126
DEBUSSY: Three Études
CHOPIN: Études, Op. 25
LIGETI: Études

Sep 29
Frankfurt, Germany
Alte Oper
Solo recital
LIGETI: Musica ricercata
BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles, Op. 33, 119 & 126
BARTÓK: Divertimento (with Michael Wollny, piano)

Oct 1
Zurich, Switzerland
Town Hall
Duo recital with Tamara Stefanovich, piano
KURTÁG: Játékok
Eric WUBBELS: Helix
LIGETI: Études
Rebecca SAUNDERS: Shadow
MESSIAEN: Visions de l’Amen

Oct 14
London, UK
Queen Elizabeth Hall
Ligeti 100
Solo recital (matinee)
LIGETI: Chromatische Phantasie
LIGETI: Musica ricercata
LIGETI: Études (selections)

London Sinfonietta / Vimbayi Kaziboni
LIGETI: Piano Concerto

Oct 28
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Asko|Schönberg / Bas Wiegers
LIGETI: Piano Concerto

Nov 2–4
New York, NY
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
New York Philharmonic / Susanna Malkki
LIGETI: Piano Concerto

Nov 5
Montreal, Quebec
Salle Bourgie
Ligeti Festival
Solo recital
LIGETI: Musica ricercata
BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles, Op. 126
DEBUSSY: Three Études
CHOPIN: Études, Op. 25
LIGETI: Études

Nov 7
New York, NY
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
New York Philharmonic “Artist Spotlight”
Solo recital
LIGETI: Études
Other rep TBA

Nov 10
Maribor, Slovenia
Narodni Dom (National Cathedral)
Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra (FLCO) / István Várdai
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 3

Nov 16
Vienna, Austria
Solo recital
BACH: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I & II (selections)
KURTÁG: Játékok (selection)
SCHUBERT: Dances (selection)

Nov 17
Blaibach, Germany
Rep: TBA

Nov 24–Dec 1: Asian solo recital tour

Nov 24: Beijing, China

Nov 26: Xi’an, China

Nov 28: Shanghai, China

Dec 1: Tokyo, Japan (Yamaha Hall)
Rep: TBA

Dec 5
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation
Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra / Sylvain Cambreling
LIGETI: Piano Concerto

Dec 8
Nîmes, France
Festival Les Volques
Solo recital
MOZART: Fantasie for Piano in C minor, K. 475
George BENJAMIN: Fantasy on Iambic Rhythm
George BENJAMIN: Shadowlines
MOZART: Andante, K. 616
George BENJAMIN: Piano Figures
MOZART: Adagio for Piano in B minor, K. 540

Dec 13–15
Prague, Czech Republic
Rudolfinum Dvořák Hall
Czech Philharmonic / Tugan Sokhiev
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G

Dec 26
Location TBA
Solo recital
Rep. TBA

Jan 22, 24 & 25
Milan, Italy
Teatro alla Scala
La Scala Orchestra / Ingo Metzmacher
NONO: Como una ola de fuerza y luz (with Serena Sáenz, soprano; electric tape)

Feb 10–15: recital and masterclass
Florence, Italy
Feb 10: solo recital
Rep: TBA
Feb 14 & 15: masterclass TBC

Feb 16 & 17: Fantasy-themed solo recitals in Italy

Feb 16: Avezzano, Italy (TBC)

Feb 17: Rome, Italy (TBC)
MOZART: Fantasie for Piano No. 3 in D minor, K. 397
SWEELINCK: Echo Fantasia No. 4
MOZART: Fantasie for Piano in C minor, K. 475
Andrei VOLKONSKY: Musica stricta, fantasia ricercata
MOZART: Fantasie in F minor (fragment) K.Anh 32
C.P.E. BACH: Fantasia for Keyboard in C
MOZART: Fantasie in C minor, K. 396
BEETHOVEN: Fantasia for piano, Op. 77
George BENJAMIN: Fantasy on Iambic Rhythm for piano

Feb 23–27: Fantasy-themed solo recitals in the U.S.A

Feb 23: Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia Chamber Music Society; includes masterclass)

Feb 25: Chicago, IL

Feb 27: San Francisco, CA (Herbst Theatre)
MOZART: Fantasie for Piano in C minor, K. 475
C.P.E. BACH: Fantasia for Keyboard in C
BEETHOVEN: Fantasia for piano, Op. 77
CHOPIN: Polonaise no. 7 in A-flat “Polonaise-fantaisie,” Op. 61 (Philadelphia & San Francisco only)
CARTER: Night-Fantasies (Philadelphia & San Francisco only)
SWEELINCK: Fantasia cromatica (Philadelphia & San Francisco only)
IVES: The Celestial Railroad, “Phantasy” (Philadelphia & San Francisco only)
George BENJAMIN: Fantasy on Iambic Rhythm (Chicago only)

March 1 & 2
Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Symphony / Matthias Pintscher
MESSIAEN: Des canyons aux étoiles

March 9
Berlin, Germany
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra / Petr Popelka
SCHOENBERG: Piano Concerto

March 17 & 18
Hannover, Germany
State Orchestra of Lower Saxony / Stephan Zilias
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in D (for left hand)
George BENJAMIN: Duet

March 30
Paris, France
Auditorium de Radio France
Orchestre national de France / Cristian Măcelaru
MESSIAEN: Oiseaux exotiques

April 15
Madrid, Spain
Duo recital with Tamara Stefanovich, piano
RAVEL: Sites auriculaires: Entre cloches
ENESCU: No. 7, “Carillon nocturne,” from Suite No. 3
KNUSSEN: Prayer Bell Sketch
BIRTWISTLE: Keyboard Engine
MESSIAEN: Visions de l’Amen

April 28
Paris, France
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
Solo recital
LIGETI: Musica Ricercata (selections)
KURTÁG: Hommage à Vidovszky
CAGE: 4’33”
KURTÁG: Játékok
SCHOENBERG: Six Little Piano Pieces (selections)

May 1
St. Pölten, Austria
Festspielhaus St. Pölten
Solo recital
MESSIAEN: Catalogue d’oiseaux

May 5
Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg Symphony Orchestra / Sylvain Cambreling
Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 2

May 12
Cologne, Germany
Cologne Music Triennale / Acht Brücken
Event TBA

May 15–20
Chipping Campden, UK
Chipping Campden Festival
Solo recital (rep TBA)

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

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© 21C Media Group, August 2023


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