New Album: Bartók Piano Concertos

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard joins forces with the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen for a recording of Bartók’s complete piano concertos. A pianist himself, Bartók imbued his three concertos with multiple aspects of his compositional persona, ranging from complex and innovative (the First) to exuberant (the Second) and serene (the Third). The result is a fascinating slice of his musical life. This all-Bartók release marks the first Pentatone collaboration between Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, an ensemble he has reshaped through creative performance concepts and expansive new media projects.

A renowned champion of twentieth-century music, Pierre-Laurent Aimard has released multiple acclaimed albums in his exclusive contract with Pentatone, including Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux (2018) and Visions de l’Amen (2022), along with Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata & Eroica Variations (2021). He also joined Tamara Stefanovich in Etudes and Frames (2023), with music by Vassos Nicolaou. Salonen returns to the label for the first time since his recording of Stravinsky’s Perséphone (2018); the San Francisco Symphony previously appeared on the 2005 Pentatone release Young America.

“Bartok’s own recordings teach us the extent to which every musical dimension nourishes every moment of his works – including his virtuosity. By this, I mean the extent to which everything in his work is melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, architectural, and also phrased, pulsed, spoken, sung and experienced.

“Hungary attracted me so much in my younger years: I spent a lot of time with Hungarians and their country. It was not only a privilege but also a choice to work in depth with great Hungarian masters such as Gyorgy Kurtag, Simon Albert and Peter Eotvos. And nothing could have brought me closer to such linguistically singular music than learning the Hungarian language.

“For me, Bartok’s piano concertos are among the most demanding in the repertoire, due to their combination of instrumental challenge and musical significance. Their intensity is incandescent.”

The Digital Worldwide release of this project is on September 15. Available everywhere now.