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Pierre-Laurent Aimard Returns to U.S. for Beethoven with Concertgebouw Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center, Ligeti with SF Symphony, Goldbergs at Disney Hall, and Duo Recital Tour with Tamara Stefanovich

Over the coming season, Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s U.S. engagements span two and a half centuries of music, showcasing his artistry as a recitalist, duo partner, and orchestral soloist. First, he embarks on a fall tour of modern four-hands piano masterpieces with his regular recital partner, Tamara Stefanovich. Kicking off at New York’s Carnegie Hall and taking them to Chicago, Chapel Hill, and Berkeley, the tour features the U.S. premiere of Keyboard Engine, a new work written for the duo by Sir Harrison Birtwistle (Oct 25-Nov 1). Next, highlighting a year-long artistic residency with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Aimard appears as soloist in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto at concerts in Naples, FL, at Washington’s Kennedy Center, and back at Carnegie Hall (Feb 10-15). Finally, the Grammy Award-winning French pianist returns to the States next spring for two Californian appearances, joining the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas for Ligeti’s Concerto (May 9–11), before giving a complete account of Bach’s Goldberg Variations at LA’s Disney Hall (May 12).

Further afield, Aimard serves as Artist-in-Residence at the Vienna Konzerthaus and as Portrait Artist at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux Arts, besides continuing his three-year residency at London’s Southbank Centre with a full weekend dedicated to the music of Stockhausen. His busy recital schedule takes him to musical hotspots including Hamburg, Munich, Brussels, Paris, Lyon, Porto, Turin, Oxford, and Moscow while, in addition to the Concertgebouw Orchestra, he makes solo appearances with such leading international ensembles as the London Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Czech Philharmonic, National Philharmonic of Russia, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which – with a program of Mozart and Carter – he leads from the keyboard on tour.

Birtwistle U.S. premiere and more with Tamara Stefanovich

The late Olivier Messiaen is one of several 20th-century masters with whom the French pianist enjoyed especially close personal and professional ties. A former student of Messiaen’s wife and muse, Yvonne Loriod, Aimard has championed his compatriot’s music throughout his career, proving himself “one of the composer’s supreme interpreters” (New Yorker). When Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich gave a four-hands performance of Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen in London last year, The Guardian awarded them a five-star review and concluded that “it was quite simply impossible to imagine it better done.”

Messiaen’s suite is on the program again when the duo tours the States this fall, alongside the U.S. premiere of Keyboard Engine (2017-18) by Sir Harrison Birtwistle (b. 1934). Another of the contemporary composers that Aimard has most consistently championed, Birtwistle says of the pianist: “He realizes the dreams of the composer – certainly, this composer.” Styled a “construction for two pianos,” Birtwistle’s new piece was written for Aimard and Stefanovich, who gave its first performance this past summer at England’s Aldeburgh Festival, where the French pianist concluded his eight-year tenure as Artistic Director in 2016.

For their upcoming appearances at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (Oct 25), Chicago’s Symphony Center (Oct 28), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Oct 30), and in Berkeley’s Cal Performances series (Nov 1), Aimard and Stefanovich complete their program with Ravel’s Sites auriculaires and Bartók’s Seven Pieces from Mikrokosmos. It was in the Hungarian composer’s music that the duo scored a Grammy nomination – Aimard’s seventh – with their recording of his Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion.

In Europe, the same four-hands program takes Aimard and Stefanovich to Cologne (Oct 4) and a similar one to Luxembourg (Jan 11), where – as at the Tenth International Pharos Contemporary Music Festival in Nicosia, Cyprus (Oct 14) – they also feature Frames (2017), which was written for them by Cypriot composer Vassos Nicolaou (b.1971).

Residencies with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and at London’s Southbank Centre

Although best known as a key figure in the music of our time, Aimard is also a leading interpreter of more traditional piano repertoire. He enjoys a long association with the Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, as illustrated by the enduring success of their benchmark 2004 recording of Dvořák’s concerto under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who also partnered the pianist on his live Beethoven cycle a year earlier, when his performance impressed BBC Music magazine with its “intelligence, a sense of theatrical drama, and real curiosity.” Gramophone agreed:

“The freshness of this set is remarkable. … I warm to it not only for the boldness of its answers but for finding so many of the right questions to ask. … I need to single out the finale of the Emperor, which tingles with a continuously vital, constantly modulated dynamic life that it too rarely receives.”

Now Aimard reprises the monumental “Emperor” Concerto for concerts with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam (Jan 30 & 31) and, under the baton of Daniel Harding, on tour in Naples, FL (Feb 10), at the Kennedy Center (Feb 13), and in Carnegie’s Stern Auditorium (Feb 15).

The U.S. tour crowns the pianist’s season-long tenure as the orchestra’s 2018-19 Artist-in-Residence. Revealing the many facets of his artistry, this also sees him play Dvořák under Harding (Dec 6-8); couple Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques with the Dutch premiere of Birtwistle’s Responses under Vladmir Jurowski (June 14); and join members of the orchestra for a pair of chamber programs (Dec 9; June 15).

Aimard holds several additional European residential posts, including one at London’s Southbank Centre, where he is now entering the second phase of his three-year tenure as Artist-in-Residence. After joining the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Karina Canellakis for a reprise of the Dvořák concerto (Oct 10), he concludes the residency with a weekend devoted to Karlheinz Stockhausen. Another of the modernist masters with whom Aimard worked closely during his lifetime, the German composer would have celebrated his 90th birthday this year. To celebrate this milestone, the pianist performs his Klavierstücke I-XI, takes part in his seminal Kontakte for piano, percussion, and electronics, and joins Stefanovich and sound designer Marco Stroppa for accounts of his monumental rarity Mantra (June 1 & 2).

Aimard recently anchored similar retrospectives dedicated to the composer at this month’s Lucerne Festival and Musikfest Berlin, where his account of the Klavierstücke was hailed as “the performance of a lifetime.” Seen and Heard International continued:

“I have no doubt that memories of hearing Pierre-Laurent Aimard play the first eleven Stockhausen Klavierstücke will remain with me forever: like hearing Maurizio Pollini in Chopin or Daniel Barenboim in Beethoven. Not so much a performance of the year as of a lifetime, this recital proved just as all-encompassing and arguably still more necessary.”

Bach’s Goldberg Variations and other solo recitals

Like Beethoven, J.S. Bach is another of the great composers of the common practice period in whose music Aimard has decisively made his mark. In 2008, 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?” Drawing on intensive study of the work during a season-long sabbatical at Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Study, he then tackled Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, of which his Deutsche Grammophon recording of Book I was heralded as “a new benchmark” (NDR Radio, Germany). Now the pianist turns his focus to another Bach masterpiece that is, like the Well-Tempered Clavier, a pinnacle not only of the keyboard literature, but of all Western culture: the transcendent Goldberg Variations.

These take Aimard not only to LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, where he is presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic (May 12), but to recitals throughout Europe, in Oxford, Munich, Paris, Lyon, Brussels, and during his residency in Vienna. Like his upcoming appearance in Hanover, this also sees him perform Messiaen’s complete Catalogue d’oiseaux, which he recorded last season to inaugurate his exclusive new contract with the Pentatone label, and of which his account was just hailed as “the high point” (Frankfurter Rundschau) of Frankfurt’s Musikfest Atmosphères. Besides reprising excerpts from the Catalogue in Vienna and Moscow, Aimard also gives solo appearances in Linz, Austria; at Arnstadt’s Thüringer Bachwochen; at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie; and in Cologne, where his program features the world premiere performance of Centrifugal by Vassos Nicolaou.

Ligeti with the San Francisco Symphony and more

For his final U.S. appearances of the season, Aimard joins the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas for György Ligeti’s Piano Concerto (May 9-11). He and Ligeti shared an intimate working relationship until the Hungarian composer’s death twelve years ago, Aimard having premiered and made first recordings of a number of Ligeti’s piano compositions, winning a 1997 Gramophone Award for his Sony Masterworks album of the Études, and inspiring some of the composer’s most complex writing. As a result, he remains without peer as an exponent of Ligeti’s works, the composer himself pronouncing him “today’s leading interpreter of contemporary piano music.” Click here to see the Ligeti Project, the free, multilingual site Aimard launched two years ago under the auspices of the Ruhr Piano Festival’s Explore the Score; as The Guardian writes, this ambitious pedagogical undertaking offers “astonishingly multi-dimensional insight” into Ligeti’s music, “and it’s something no admirer should miss.”

The San Francisco engagement follows Aimard’s accounts of Ligeti’s concerto in Porto and with Heinz Holliger leading the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin and at Milan’s La Scala. He also plays selected Études by the same composer in Porto, at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, and during his residency at the Vienna Konzerthaus.

The versatile pianist plays three Mozart concertos this season, with especial focus on Nos. 25 in C and 15 in B-flat, as heard on his acclaimed 2005 recording with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He reunites with the orchestra to lead both concertos from the keyboard and take part in chamber works by Elliott Carter at concerts in Cologne, Berlin, and Paris, before revisiting the two concertos with the orchestra under David Afkham’s leadership at the Klarafestival in Brussels and Antwerp. He also reprises Mozart’s Concerto No. 15 with Zurich’s Tonhalle-Orchester under Donald Runnicles and with the Munich Chamber Orchestra and Clemens Schuldt at Mozartfest Würzburg, where he pairs it with the Classical master’s Concerto No. 17 in G.

Aimard’s other European orchestral collaborations include accounts of Bartók’s First Concerto with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Jonathan Nott; Bartók’s Third with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and François-Xavier Roth; and a coupling of the latter with Dvořák’s concerto with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia under Mikhail Gerts.

High-resolution photos may be downloaded here.


Pierre-Laurent Aimard: 2018-19 engagements

Oct 1
Hamburg, Germany
IVES: Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass., 1840–60 (with Adam Walker, flute; Tabea Zimmermann, viola)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Sonata for Viola and Piano in C, Op. 147 (with Tabea Zimmermann, viola)

Oct 4
Cologne, Germany
Duo recital with Tamara Stefanovich, piano
BARTÓK: Seven Pieces from Mikrokosmos for two pianos, four hands
RAVEL: Sites auriculaires
HARRISON BIRTWISTLE: Keyboard Engine, construction for two pianos
MESSIAEN: Visions de l’Amen

Oct 10
London, UK
Royal Festival Hall
London Philharmonic Orchestra / Karina Canellakis
DVOŘÁK: Piano Concerto

Oct 11
Oxford, UK
Oxford Playhouse (St. Johns the Evangelist Church)
BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998 

Oct 14
Nicosia, Cyprus
10th International Pharos Contemporary Music Festival
Duo recital with Tamara Stefanovich, piano

Oct 25–Nov 1: U.S. duo recital tour with Tamara Stefanovich, piano
BARTÓK: Seven Pieces from Mikrokosmos for two pianos, four hands
RAVEL: Sites auriculaires
HARRISON BIRTWISTLE: Keyboard Engine, construction for two pianos (U.S. premiere of Carnegie Hall co-commission)
MESSIAEN: Visions de l’Amen
   Oct 25: New York, NY (Carnegie Hall; Zankel Hall)
Oct 28: Chicago, IL (Symphony Center)
Oct 30: Chapel Hill, NC (University of North Carolina)
Nov 1: Berkeley, CA (Cal Performances)

Nov 6
Vienna, Austria
Wiener Konzerthaus
LIGETI: Etudes (Book 1)
LIGETI: Etudes (Book 3)
LIGETI: Etudes (Book 2)
The performance will be followed by a post-concert talk.

Nov 9 & 19: Italian concerts with RAI National Symphony Orchestra / Heinz Holliger
LIGETI: Concerto for Piano
Nov 9: Turin
Nov 19: Milan (Teatro alla Scala)

Nov 13
Munich, Germany
BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998

Nov 21 & 22
Zürich, Switzerland
Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich / Donald Runnicles
MOZART: Concerto for Piano No. 15 in B-flat, K.450 

Nov 26 & 28
Geneva, Switzerland
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande / Jonathan Nott
BARTÓK: Concerto for Piano No. 1 

Dec 6-8: Concerts with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (as Artist-in-Residence) / Daniel Harding
DVORÁK: Concerto for Piano in G minor, Op. 33
Dec 6 & 7: Amsterdam, Netherlands (Concertgebouw)
Dec 8: Brussels, Belgium (BOZAR)

Dec 9
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Chamber concert with members of Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam (as Artist-in-Residence)
JANÁČEK: Concertino
GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Hommage à Robert Schumann
SCHUMANN: Piano Quintet in E-flat, Op. 44 

Dec 21
Vienna, Austria
Konzerthaus Vienna
MESSIAEN: Catalogue d’oiseaux (complete)

Jan 7
Linz, Austria
Bruknerhaus Linz
LISZT: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.154
SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 64
MESSIAEN: Visions de l’Amen (with Tamara Stefanovich, piano) 

Jan 11
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Philharmonie Luxembourg
Duo recital with Tamara Stefanovich, piano
VASSOS NICOLAOU: Frames for piano four hands (2017; Luxembourg premiere)
HARRISON BIRTWISTLE: Keyboard Engine, construction for two pianos
BOULEZ: Structures, Book 2
MESSIAEN: Visions de l’Amen 

Jan 13
Philharmonie Essen
DEBUSSY: Préludes, Book 2
RAVEL: Gaspard de la Nuit
MESSIAEN: Nos. V (“La chouette hulotte”) and VI (“L’alouette-lulu”) from Catalogue d’oiseaux

Jan 15
Moscow, Russia
Tchaikovsky Concert Hall
DEBUSSY: Préludes, Book 2
RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit
MESSIAEN: Nos. V (“La chouette hulotte”) and VI (“L’alouette-lulu”) from Catalogue d’oiseaux 

Jan 17
Moscow, Russia
Tchaikovsky Concert Hall
National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia / Mikhail Gerts
DVOŘÁK: Piano Concerto
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 3

Jan 23-25
Prague, Czech Republic
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Jakub Hrůša
DVOŘÁK: Piano Concerto 

Jan 28
Paris, France
Philharmonie de Paris
BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998

Jan 30 & 31
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (as Artist-in-Residence) / TBA
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, Op. 73 (“Emperor”)

Feb 3
Lyon, France
Auditorium de Lyon
BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998

Feb 10–15: U.S. tour with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (as Artist-in-Residence) / Daniel Harding
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, Op. 73 (“Emperor”)
Feb 10: Naples, FL
Feb 13: Washington, DC (Kennedy Center)
Feb 15: New York, NY (Carnegie Hall) 

Feb 23
Cologne, Germany
KAGEL: Transicion II
VASSOS NICOLAOU: Centrifugal (world premiere)

March 9-11: Tour with Chamber Orchestra of Europe / leading from the keyboard
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat, K.450
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, K.503
CARTER: Quintet for Piano and Wind Instruments
CARTER: Epigrams for violin, cello and piano
CARTER: Double Trio
March 9: Berlin, Germany (Mozart concertos; Carter Quintet and Epigrams)
March 10: Cologne, Germany (Mozart concertos; Carter Epigrams)
March 11: Paris, France (Mozart concertos; Carter Quintet and Double Trio)

March 14 & 15
Concerts at Belgium’s Klarafestival with Chamber Orchestra of Europe / David Afkham
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat, K.450
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, K.503
March 14: Brussels (BOZAR; No. 15)
March 15: Antwerp (No. 25)

March 19
Tokyo, Japan
Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra / Sylvain Cambreling
MESSIAEN: Sept haïkaï

March 23 & 24
Tokyo, Japan
Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra / Sylvain Cambreling
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 

April 4 & 5
Munich, Germany
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / François-Xavier Roth
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 3

April 22
Arnstadt, Germany
Thüringer Bachwochen
Program to include BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998

April 24
Brussels, Belgium
Palais des Beaux Arts
BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998

April 28
Porto, Portugal
LIGETI: Concerto for Piano 

April 30
Porto, Portugal
LIGETI: Études

May 2
Hamburg, Germany
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
LIGETI: Etudes (Book 1)
LIGETI: Etudes (Book 3)
LIGETI: Etudes (Book 2)
BARTÓK: Selections from Mikrokosmos 

May 9-11
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas
LIGETI: Concerto for Piano 

May 12
Los Angeles, CA
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles Philharmonic presents
BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998

May 25
Hanover, Germany
KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen
MESSIAEN: Catalogue d’oiseaux (complete)

May 28
Vienna, Austria
Wiener Konzerthaus
BACH: Goldberg Variations, BWV 998 

June 1 & 2
London, UK
Southbank Centre (as Artist-in-Residence)
All-STOCKHAUSEN programs
June 1: Queen Elizabeth Hall
Klavierstücke I-XI
Kontakte for piano, tape & percussion (with Dirk Rothbrust, percussion; Marco Stroppa, sound)
June 2:
      Zyklus for percussion (Dirk Rothbrust, percussion)
Mantra for two pianos and electronics (with Tamara Stefanovich, piano; Marco Stroppa, sound)

June 14
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (as Artist-in-Residence) / Vladmir Jurowski
HARRISON BIRTWISTLE: Responses (Dutch premiere)
MESSIAEN: Oiseaux exotiques

June 15
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Chamber concert
Program TBA
With members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (as Artist-in-Residence)

June 19
Würzburg, Germany
Mozartfest Würzburg
Munich Chamber Orchestra / Clemens Schuldt
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat, K.450
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 17 in G, K.453 

June 25-28: French concerts with National des Pays de la Loire / Pascal Rophé
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2
June 25 & 26: Nantes
June 27 & 28: Angers


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