Press Room

Pierre-Laurent Aimard Performs & Records Bartók’s First & Third Piano Concertos with Esa-Pekka Salonen & San Francisco Symphony (June 16–19)

Pierre-Laurent Aimard (photo: Marco Borggreve)

(May 2022)—“A brilliant musician and an extraordinary visionary” (Wall Street Journal), Grammy-winning French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard returns to the States next month to perform and record Bartók’s First and Third Piano Concertos with the San Francisco Symphony and its Music Director, Esa-Pekka Salonen (June 16–19). Aimard enjoys a close and longstanding artistic partnership with the Finnish conductor, highlighted by “Salonen/Aimard: Inspirations,” their celebrated 2017 series at London’s Royal Festival Hall. As for the pianist’s previous Bartók concerto recording, this was recognized with a Grammy nomination; to quote The Guardian, “In piano music like this he has no equal.”

Rugged, rhythmic and introspective, Bartók’s three piano concertos are classics of the 20th-century canon. This past March, Aimard performed the Second with the Seattle Symphony, scoring a five-star review in Bachtrack and prompting Seen and Heard International to marvel:

“Aimard’s presence at the piano for Bartók’s concerto was guaranteed to be electric. His specialty is modern keyboard music, and he was a perfect advocate for Bartók’s craggy harmonies and spiky rhythms.”

With Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony next month, Aimard performs both the First (June 16 & 17) and Third (June 18 & 19) concertos live in concert, when they will be captured on record for future release by Pentatone. His Grammy-nominated Deutsche Grammophon recording of the Hungarian composer’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, made with Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra, was hailed as a “jewel” by The Times of London.

Like the late French conductor, Salonen is one of those with whom Aimard has developed an especially close musical rapport. The two have collaborated frequently in recent years, most notably co-curating and performing in the Philharmonia Orchestra’s “Salonen/Aimard: Inspirations” series. A four-program exploration of musical modernism at London’s Royal Festival Hall, this met with widespread acclaim, winning five-star reviews in both Bachtrack and The Times, which applauded the artists’ “magnificent musicianship.” The two think no less highly of one another. Aimard has observed of Salonen: “He is 100 percent focused on the music and he knows exactly what he has to do. Nothing in what he does is artificial, and I find that extraordinary.” Likewise, Salonen has said of the pianist:

“He is one of the most versatile, intellectually curious and agile pianists in the world. I like the way he thinks: music is music, and all music feeds off other music. Nothing exists in isolation. That philosophy is very close to my own heart. The best human relationships are those where you don’t have to explain what you are thinking all the time, in music as well as in life: both parties understand each other through gestures, almost like telepathy. One of the most inspiring things about working with Pierre-Laurent is that we really do have this type of communication.”

* * * * *

Bartók is on the program once again when Aimard returns to Austria’s Salzburg Festival, where his upcoming solo recital also includes music by Liszt and Ligeti (July 29). Aimard and Ligeti shared an intimate working relationship until the Hungarian composer’s death in 2006. It was Aimard who premiered and made first recordings of a number of Ligeti’s piano compositions, winning a Gramophone Award for his Sony Masterworks album of the Études, and he who inspired some of the composer’s most complex writing. As a result, he remains without peer as an exponent of Ligeti’s works, the late composer himself having pronounced him “today’s leading interpreter of contemporary piano music.”

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard: upcoming engagements

May 27
Humlebaek, Denmark
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
MESSIAEN: Catalogue d’oiseaux

June 16 & 17
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony / Esa-Pekka Salonen
BARTÓK: Concerto for Piano No. 1

June 18 & 19
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony / Esa-Pekka Salonen
BARTÓK: Concerto for Piano No. 3

July 7
Orange, France
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France / Myung-Whun Chung
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5

July 11
Graz, Austria
Styriarte Festival
LISZT: Années de pèlerinage

July 22 & 23
Joliette, QC
Lanaudière Festival
MESSIAEN: Catalogue d’oiseaux

July 29
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Festival
BARTÓK: Three Burlesques; Three Studies; selections from Four Dirges, 14 Bagatelles & Mikrokosmos
LISZT: Trauervorspiel und Trauermarsch; selections from Historische ungarische Bildnisse
LIGETI: selections from Musica ricercata & Études pour piano, Book 1

# # #

© 21C Media Group, May 2022


Return to Press Room