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Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays this fall with Gewandhaus and Bavarian State Orchestras

This fall, pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard – “a brilliant musician and an extraordinary visionary” (Wall Street Journal) – embarks on collaborations with two of Germany’s foremost orchestras. He joins the Gewandhaus Orchestra and its chief conductor, Riccardo Chailly, for two performances of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at the orchestra’s Leipzig home (Oct 17 & 18) and three more on a major European tour at London’s Barbican Hall (Oct 29), the Salle Pleyel in Paris (Nov 1), and Vienna’s Musikverein (Nov 6). With Munich’s Bavarian State Orchestra, Aimard plays works by two composers with whom he has long been closely associated, serving as soloist in Oiseaux exotiques by Messiaen and the Duet for piano and orchestra by George Benjamin, who will himself conduct (Oct 21 & 22).
The pianist waited many years before introducing Brahms’s piano concertos into his concert repertoire. “I’ve always thought that Brahms is very difficult in terms of style and I told myself I needed to wait until I knew a little more as a pianist and as a musician,” he explains. As a result, his probingly insightful renditions of the German composer’s orchestral works consistently draw praise. After an account of the First Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony at London’s BBC Proms, the Telegraph concluded:
“This was a performance that not only brought out the deep tragedy in the sentiment of the first movement but also tapped the music’s more inward vein—Aimard’s soft, beautifully-shaped playing in the Benedictus-like slow movement was particularly affecting.”
Similarly, when the pianist reprised the concerto with Christoph von Dohnányi and the Philharmonia Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall this past June, “Aimard struck an excellent balance—or generated a compelling dialectic—between ‘simplicity’ of expression and the ‘involved’ complexity of Brahms’s thematic working,” according to Seen and Heard International. The same review concluded: “This, then, was a genuinely interesting performance.
Aimard has championed the music of Olivier Messiaen (1908-92) throughout his career, since taking first prize in the international Messiaen Competition; the New York Times affirms that “Messiaen has no more persuasive advocate than Mr. Aimard,” and the New Yorker calls him “one of the composer’s supreme interpreters.” Like Aimard, English composer George Benjamin (b.1960) was a piano student of Messiaen’s wife, Yvonne Loriod, at the Paris Conservatoire, where he also studied composition with Messiaen himself. He and Aimard have long enjoyed a close musical partnership; most recently, as Director of Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music, Aimard presented the U.S. premiere of Benjamin’s hit opera, Written on Skin, with the composer leading a concert performance that the New York Times pronounced “psychologically gripping, emotionally heart-pounding, and viscerally satisfying.” The pianist has premiered and recorded a number of Benjamin’s works, including the Duet for piano and orchestra (2008). After his world premiere performance with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Lucerne Festival, The Guardian described the Duet as “music of startling concentration. … Its expressive and emotional effects are on the largest scale,” and found that “Aimard’s technical and musical command was remarkable.”

Following his upcoming orchestral engagements, Aimard looks forward to a period of intensive study at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Studies). For a musician to be invited to a residency at the institute represents an especial honor, one that pays tribute to Aimard’s rare status as a “ferociously intelligent musician, and full of sharp insights” (Financial Times). The Grammy Award-winning pianist plans to use the opportunity to immerse himself in the study of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, the focus of his next Deutsche Grammophon recording; his earlier release, Bach: The Art of Fugue, was a tremendous critical and commercial success that topped the classical music charts of both Billboard and iTunes. Aimard will also study and prepare for a focus on György Ligeti’s Études at Germany’s Ruhr Piano Festival; like Bach’s, Ligeti’s works are signature Aimard fare, and the Hungarian composer considered him “today’s leading interpreter of contemporary piano music.” The residency will draw to a close in time for next year’s Aldeburgh Festival, where Aimard has served as Artistic Director since 2009. The 2013 festival, which marked the centennial of its founder, Benjamin Britten, was proclaimed “a feast for the ear and mind” (Telegraph).

Further details of Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s upcoming engagements are provided below, and more information is available at the artist’s web site:
Pierre-Laurent Aimard: upcoming engagements
Oct 17 & 18
Leipzig, Germany
Leipzig Gewandhaus
Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Oct 21 & 22
Munich, Germany
Bavarian State Opera
Bavarian State Orchestra / George Benjamin
Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques
George Benjamin: Duet for piano and orchestra
Oct 29
London, UK
Barbican Hall
Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Nov 1
Paris, France
Salle Pleyel
Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Nov 6
Vienna, Austria
Vienna Musikverein
Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 
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© 21C Media Group, October 2013

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