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February 21, 2015
Pierre-Laurent Aimard Tours All-Boulez Program with Tamara Stefanovich

Pierre-Laurent Aimard returns to the United States in March to showcase the work of Pierre Boulez, a composer with whom he has enjoyed a long and exceptionally rich personal and professional history. At the age of 19, at the composer-conductor’s invitation, Aimard became a founding member of Ensemble Intercontemporain, Boulez’s IRCAM-based chamber orchestra, and he played with the group for many years, participating in a number of major premieres. Together with pianist Tamara Stefanovich, with whom he was honored with a Grammy nomination for their recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos, the two pianists bring an all-Boulez program to Berkeley’s Cal Performances series on March 12, Chicago’s Symphony Center on March 15, New York’s Carnegie Hall on March 16, and Carolina Performing Arts in Chapel Hill on March 18, with a preview at Cornell University on March 8. They reprise this program later in the month at Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ on March 25 and will perform it this summer at Italy’s Ravenna Festival on June 7.

Photo © Frank Alexander Rümmele

February 9, 2015
Pierre-Laurent Aimard Performs U.S. Premiere of New Birtwistle Premiere with Boston Symphony

Aimard reunites with Stefan Asbury on February 12 to give the American premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Responses: sweet disorder and the carefully careless in three performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall. This is the fourth of the ensembles that co-commissioned the work for Aimard, and these performances follow concerts in Munich, also under the directorship of Asbury, in Porto with Peter Eötvös, and in London under Vladimir Jurowski, which highlighted “Birtwistle at 80” celebrations at the Royal Festival Hall. Jurowski was originally scheduled to conduct the performances in Boston but was forced to withdraw due to via issues.

Birtwistle took his concerto’s subtitle – Sweet disorder and the carefully careless – from an essay collection by Princeton architect Robert Maxwell, which he describes as capturing “the essence of what I’m doing. It’s a resonant phrase. I identify with his ideas on modernism but I take it on a simple level too.” Responses draws on his Gabrieli-inspired ensemble piece, In Broken Images (2012). Like the earlier work, his new concerto makes extensive use of the medieval hocket principle, by which a single melody is shared between voices. “The piece is a dialogue,” he explains: “The whole piece is about hocket: it’s full of it. The piano is able to play one of the voices of the hocket, so allowing it to be heard throughout. The piano here is like a frame and the orchestral response is the window.”

Sir Harrison Birtwistle is one of the contemporary composers that Aimard – as performer, programmer, and commissioner – has most consistently championed. Ten years ago, during the English composer’s 70th birthday celebrations at London’s Royal Festival Hall, he gave performance”of Birtwistle’s first piano concerto, Antiphonies.

A video of Aimard in rehearsal for October’s world premiere of Responses with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Stefan Asbury is available here, featuring an exclusive interview with the composer.

February 2, 2015
Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Aldeburgh Music Announce 2015 Season

Returning in the summer of 2015 for his seventh season as Artistic Director of Aldeburgh Music, running June 12 through 28, Pierre-Laurent Aimard's performances at this summer's festival include Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Ligeti’s Piano Concerto with the London Sinfonietta, and Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Quatuor Mosaïques. He joins Isabelle Faust, Mark Simpson and Jean-Guihen Queyras in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and George Benjamin for the four-hands piano version of Ravel’s Mother Goose suite. His solo recital on June 27 focuses on Bach, with pieces from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier and the Art of Fugue interspersed with miniatures by Kurtág.

Numerous tributes to Pierre Boulez will taking place, in recognition of the composer and conductor's 90th birthday. Says Aimard, who has worked with Boulez since 1976 when he was engaged as the first pianist for the Ensemble Intercontemporain: “The legend of Pierre Boulez as a towering icon of the avant garde precedes him, but what I want to bring to our retrospective is my overriding impression of his humanity. Pierre is a man who is passionate, loyal and very human an outstanding leader but also modest and generous. For me his continual revising of his works is a constant commitment to making things better and it is this spirit which infuses our series of explorations, discussions and performances.”

Together with the Aldeburgh Festival’s new Chief Executive, Roger Wright, Aimard has devised a three-day retrospective aimed at bringing audiences closer to Boulez’s complex music, including Gerard McBurney’s A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez (17 June), an acoustic and theatrical journey mixing live performance with rare on-screen archival footage and new interviews; Barrie Gavin's film Pierre Boulez – Living in the Present (16 June); and performances by Quatuor Diotima and Florent Boffard.

Other highlights of the festival include the world premiere performance of Harrison Birtwistle's new chamber opera The Cure, George Benjamin serving as Artist in Residence, masterclasses with Andreas Scholl, an extended Bach-focused residency from the Monteverdi Choir under John Eliot Gardiner (19 and 20 June), The Prince of the Pagodas – Britten’s only full- length ballet score,l (28 June), and performances with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Quatuor Diotima, Alice Coote, and Tamara Stefanovich amongst others. Tickets and more informationcan be found here.