Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Guest appearance with the Berliner Philharmoniker

Pierre-Laurent Aimard
(Photo: Marco Borggreve)

Pierre-Laurent Aimard is an exception among pianists. He knows how to excite listeners with outstanding performances of contemporary piano works like almost no-one else. As a twelve-year-old, he met the composer Olivier Messiaen and became a pupil of his wife, the pianist Yvonne Loriod. In 1973, he won the international Messiaen Prize and became the foremost interpreter of Messiaen’s piano works. For 18 years, he was pianist of the Ensemble Intercontemporain founded by Pierre Boulez. Apart from Messiaen, his most important teacher and mentor, he has worked together with almost all the great composers of our time: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gyorgy Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Gyorgy Kurtag and George Benjamin. Through his work with the avant-garde, he also gained a new, unconventional approach to the older, classical repertoire. His interpretations are analytic and emotional at the same time – clear, transparent and yet profound and sensuous.

Analytical and emotional

In January 2000, Pierre-Laurent Aimard made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker playing Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto. Since then he has been a regular guest of the orchestra. The programmes they have played together testify to the versatility of the artist: he has been the soloist in the piano concertos of Ludwig van Beethoven, Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartok and Arnold Schoenberg and has played the piano part in Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony several times. As Aimard, who was honoured with the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2017, revealed in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall, he appreciates the ongoing collaboration with the orchestra. “Every time I come back to the Philharmoniker, everything has to be rethought. That’s a big challenge.” This season, he will perform Béla Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto, which the Hungarian composer wrote in 1945 as a birthday present for his wife, the pianist Ditta Pásztory. Bartók, already gravely ill and dying, conceived a melancholy, thoughtful, and devout piece that sounded very different to his previous two concertos. He blends compositional techniques of the Baroque with the Hungarian idiom characteristic of his style. According to Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the challenge of the concerto is to phrase it in such as way “that it sounds Baroque, but also Bartók-like”. He now presents his interpretation of the work at the side of conductor François-Xavier Roth.