Category Archives: Press


PressListening to Beethoven, While Walking the Dog and Dodging Cars

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the French pianist, was staring up at the beautiful blue sky on Tuesday morning and playing the solemn strains of a Beethoven sonata

The program felt, in these surroundings, appropriately nocturnal, the park’s forested paths a mirror of the moody depths and wary, milky, moonlit glints of Messiaen’s “L’Alouette Lulu” (“The Woodlark”), from his “Catalogue d’Oiseaux” (“Catalog of Birds”). From the beginning, Mr. Aimard’s playing was a study in reverberation; it was perceptible even through slipping headphones how the music expanded in space and time. I only regret that, just as he moved from “L’Alouette Lulu” into the classic, slowly unwinding first bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, I accidentally turned off my phone.

Despite that unwelcome pause, Mr. Aimard’s point was clear: Messiaen’s forlorn yet slyly confident sounds were Beethoven’s, too. The transitions were crucial in this presentation; I think that by paying close attention to those, I experienced much of what Mr. Aimard wanted me to, even if I lost other aspects of the performance while trying to keep a halfway decent running pace. –The New York Times


PressBeethoven the Avant-Gardist: A Pianist Makes His Case

“If Beethoven has been everywhere in this year of his 250th birthday, innovative ways of presenting his music have not. Among the symphony cycles, string quartet surveys and re-enactments of his most famous concerts, few artists have asked us explicitly to rethink what Beethoven might mean for us today.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard has done that — or was planning to. A restless intellect as incisive in Bach as he is intelligible in Boulez, the French pianist, 62, was scheduled to give recitals at the Celebrity Series of Boston and the 92nd Street Y before the coronavirus outbreak intervened — recitals that would have put Beethoven in the context of other avant-gardists.” –The New York Times


PressBeethoven: 1808 Reconstructed, Aimard, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review – a feast in fading light

“The Philharmonia, accompanied by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the Philharmonia Voices, the Rodolfus youth choir and a handful of vocal soloists, delivered with an impressive stamina and focus that never ruled out the light and shade that this massive suite of masterpieces demanded.” –The Arts Desk


PressPierre-Laurent Aimard review – takes challenge to another level

“Aimard played the Beethoven first. Using the sustaining pedal sparingly, it was a performance of unflinching, sometimes startling clarity, especially in the colossal fugue with which the sonata ends, but it was always more convincing on the tumult than the poetry. The huge Adagio (the longest slow movement Beethoven ever wrote) was never as poised and other-worldly as it can seem in some performances, and the final climax was more clangorous than consoling.” –The Guardian


PressOPERA AND CLASSICAL REVIEWS Pierre-Laurent Aimard @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

“Some pianists are drawn to play the cantabile second theme of the slow movement with tenderness and elegance, as if anticipating the studied melancholy of Chopin; so too can languorous speeds stand in for profundity. Aimard eschews both approaches. The dotted rhythm smoothed out by many pianists at this melody’s outset pinched against its accompaniment; even in the most effusive moments Aimard made Beethoven’s lyricism sound like music fighting for breath. Aimard’s performance spotlights a special quality of isolation in late Beethoven.” –MusicOMH


PressPhilharmonia/Benjamin review – from shimmering to sombre and joyously brassy

“The 2008 Duet for piano and orchestra preceded the composition of that opera, and its sequence of sparely scored, crisply focused episodes now seems a clearing of the musical decks for the work to come, concentrating on dramatic essentials rather than exploiting the virtuosity of Pierre-Laurent Aimard, for whom it was written, and who contributed the Messiaen too – a typically brilliant account of Le Merle Bleu (The Blue Rock Thrush) from the Catalogue d’Oiseaux.” –The Guardian


PressGürzenich O Köln/Roth review – inventive and compelling Beethoven tribute

“Part of the Moonlight Sonata, first heard as an offstage recording and then taken over by Aimard, began the second half. It launched a sequence that took in Helmut Lachenmann’s Tableau, the first movement of Beethoven’s First Symphony, the allegretto from the Seventh, and then the finale of the last piano sonata Op 111, breaking off before its final ecstatic trills to lead into BA Zimmermann’s Photoptosis, which quotes Beethoven as well as Scriabin, Wagner, Bach and Tchaikovsky. Impressively well played, with visual choreography and lighting effects too, it was all weirdly compelling, though in a ‘what’s going to happen next?’ way rather than a genuinely revelatory one.” –The Guardian


PressGürzenich Orchestra/Roth review — mingling Beethoven’s music with the avant-garde

“At times while Aimard was playing all the orchestral musicians bowed their heads as if in prayer. Or else several would rise to their feet, as if saluting a flag. At one point everyone on stage started swaying slowly, as if caught in a collective trance. Dramatic lighting intensified the feeling of a ritual.” –The Times UK


PressPreservation: An Interview with Pierre-Laurent Aimard

“Traditionally, our artistic culture is not based on imitating or inheriting models, but on transforming them. Depending on the period, there are more or less references to the past, and more or less need for new dimensions, new modernism. The period when Messiaen composed this music, after World War II, was a moment of great avant-garde activity. We don’t live in an era like that at all. But history changes all the time, it is made of waves and breaks and unexpected moments, where the mix of old and new is always balanced differently.” – VAN Magazine


PressBoulez and Harnoncourt, So Different, Yet More Alike Than They Realized

“Their developments can be linked to the irrevocable caesura of war. ‘Europe had been destroyed, and had to be rebuilt completely — the cultural dimension,’ Mr. Aimard said. ‘One needed avant-gardists; one needed people who would be revolutionary and redefine this world.'” – The New York Times