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Meet the Musician: Emil de Cou on Pierre-Laurent Aimard
The temptation to pigeonhole artists can be hard to resist. Throughout Pierre-Laurent
Aimard's unique career there are landmarks which might initially invite such a
labelling: winning first prize in the 1973 Messiaen Competition and his association
with that composer's music ever since; being appointed at the age of just 19 by
Pierre Boulez to become the Ensemble InterContemporain's solo pianist; Aimard's
extremely close collaboration, since the mid-1980s, with Gyorgi Ligeti, including
being chosen by the great composer to record his complete works, and being the
dedicatee of several of his Etudes. Pierre-Laurent Aimard is without doubt a key
figure in the new music world.
But it has always been a driving force in Aimard's professional musical life to
explore as broad a range as possible of music from different ages and sources.
He continually strives to illuminate the importance of historical, musical and
cultural contexts as well as influences between composers both within and between
generations and centuries. Through his teaching work at the Paris Conservatoire
and at the Hochschule in Cologne as well as through an international programme
of concert/lectures (an example being, in the 1994/95 season, a series of 8 concert-lectures
in Lyon and Paris presenting a panorama of the piano in the 20th century) he sheds
a very personal light on music of the past, present and future.
Born in Lyon, France in 1957, Pierre-Laurent Aimard studied at the Paris Conservatoire
where he won four first prizes. He had the opportunity to study with Yvonne Loriod
and then Maria Curcio. Now Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs throughout the world
each season with the most eminent orchestras and conductors, as well as in recital
and chamber music programmes in the most prestigious venues. Current invitations
include, for example, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago, Boston and
London Symphony, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna and London Philharmonic,
Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Conductors with whom he is collaborating include Pierre Boulez, Myung Whun Chung,
Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Christoph Eschenbach, Nikolaus Harnoncourt,
Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa Pekka Salonen and Franz Welser-Moest.
Recital projects take place throughout the world’s capital cities: his much-awaited
debut recital at Carnegie Hall, New York took place in December 2001 to exceptional
acclaim, and he is regularly invited to festivals such as Edinburgh, Salzburg,
Lucerne and the BBC Proms. He also pursues a number of fascinating chamber music
projects each year in the company of such partners as Jean-Guihen Queyras, Joseph
Silverstein and Tabea Zimmerman.
Pierre-Laurent Aimard has recorded for DGG, Sony, Erato, Wergo and Lyrinx amongst
others and continues to create and record for the television station Arte a series
of films focusing on great composers of the 20th century. The first film in this
series, featuring Pierre Boulez, was a renowned success. In recent years he has
recorded very significantly for Teldec / Warner Classics, including acclaimed
performances of Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jesus”
and the Turangalila Symphony. Further releases include a live recording of the
Dvorak Piano Concerto with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Harnoncourt, plus
recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Chamber Orchestra