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Pierre-Laurent Aimard Exclusive Interview: October 28, 2011

George Benjamin: Shadowlines; Viola, Viola; Three Studies; Piano Sonata
Various Artists

CDs: 1
Tracks: 13

Nimbus Records
Rel. 1 Jan 2006

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Pierre-Laurent Aimard
On Monday, October 10, 2011, Classical Archives Artistic Director Nolan Gasser spoke with acclaimed French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, shortly following the release of his new Deutsche Grammophon recording, The Liszt Project – a creative 2-disc set comprised of eight largely late-period Liszt pieces, illuminated by works by six other composers, ranging from Wagner to Berg to Messiaen. In this fascinating discussion, Mr. Aimard shares his inspiration for this well-crafted program, and his unique views on Liszt’s legacy and historical context. The two also discuss Mr. Aimard’s unique perspective on the broader piano literature – both the “historical” repertoire and the cutting-edge contemporary music of which he’s been a leading advocate since joining Pierre Boulez’ Ensemble InterContemporain in 1977, and much more. Our feature also includes a special treat: an Exclusive video of Mr. Aimard playing Bach, compliments of MediciTV; as well as a 1-Click Pierre-Laurent Concert, with full streams for subscribers, and a further set of Pierre-Laurent Aimard videos – including the impressive lecture-video that accompanies the recording. Don’t miss this insightful discussion with a most impressive pianist!

“What makes the difference in a great program is the presence and the order of the pieces, and the slight adjustments you make to give each one it’s proper space: to enlighten the program from one piece to the next. If this is done successfully, you enter another dimension. It’s like placing paintings in the frame of an exhibition in a museum.”
– Pierre-Laurent Aimard

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[A note to our non-US visitors: this interview references Pierre-Laurent Aimard new and catalogue releases on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Due to licensing restrictions, we are unable to present these recordings in most non-US territories, for which we apologize. You can, however, get a sense of his latest recording from the video-lecture on The Liszt Project on the right column.]

Nolan Gasser: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, welcome to Classical Archives. In this bicentennial anniversary year of the birth of Franz Liszt, there is no shortage of new tribute recordings. And yet, I think it may be said that your tribute, The Liszt Project, stands apart from the pack by virtue of the creative and provocative aesthetic of its program – a view enforced by the recent praise granted it by Anthony Tommasini in his New York Times tribute to Liszt. So, can you take us back to your initial conception for this two-disc set: why, for example, instead of the more typical compilation of Liszt favorites, you opted for a rich narrative comprised of eight largely late-period Liszt works illuminated by a group of allied works by six other composers who in one way or another fell under his influence?

Pierre-Laurent Aimard: In truth, I didn’t set out to be provocative; rather, I simply tried to make the best tribute recording to Liszt that I could – to celebrate him not only as a great piano composer, but also as someone with endless curiosity and generosity; someone who saw himself as a musician of the future. Liszt helped many of his contemporaries by playing their music, but he also influenced them. It was important to me that my tribute reveal this wide range of influence that he had on composers of his era, as well as on those in the future; and especially to show was a great innovator he was – in terms of musical form, both continuous and narrative, and in terms of his incredible use of harmony, leading him toward the end of his life to compose atonal music.

Of course, Liszt may be said to have invented a new instrument in his piano writing – but he also used this instrument to open the door to many different types of music: as with his transcription of the Beethoven symphonies and other works; or the many folk songs he arranged from his travels to Italy and Switzerland. Liszt’s piano technique allowed him not only create “fireworks” or to musically paint a landscape, but also to introduce to society many works that otherwise would not have been as well-known – as with Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique, which became famous by virtue of his transcription.

I’ve also tried to make sensible the richness of Liszt’s compositions; and to show how in the modernism of his late period, he created not only this incredible harmonic language, but also a new type of musical discourse: form that is fragmentary and practically without direction; and to make sense of the many rich dimensions of his Sonata [in B-, S.178].

NG: It’s one of the nice things about these anniversary years – and we've had a lot of them lately, with Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, and Mahler: that as much as we know their music, there are aspects of their output that are not as well understood. Liszt may perhaps be the most primed of all these to shake out a bit. There is a sense that we know him – as the “fireworks” pianist, or the composer of the tone poems, or his association with Wagner – but as you point out, there is a rich dimension to him that warrants greater exploration. And, to be clear, when I said that your recording project was “provocative”, I didn’t mean that in the sense of being controversial, but rather in the sense that you are helping us to think about Liszt’s place in history in a fresh way.

PLA: Yes, I understand – though even still, it was not provocative to me, as these are associations I have always felt; and now have desired to share with others. And I’ve tried to find an appropriate construction – or form – to present these associations and their differing styles in this project.

NG: You certainly have done that – and we’ll be exploring the CD set in considerable detail. Before we get into the musical content, however, I’m curious about one thing: most classical recordings have liner notes, which attempt to elucidate not only the individual works on the disc, but also their collective connection to some larger vision or narrative; but it’s quite rare that the artist involved provides this elucidation in the form of a 23-minute video – as you have done [see Promo video on right column]. Now, I know that you’re no stranger to speaking on camera, but was this “video-lecture” your idea? And if so, what was the inspiration behind it?

PLA: I’ve always felt that when you prepare a project like a concert or a recording, the audience will hear it for the first time and will hopefully sense what ideas you wanted to communicate; but they will likely not feel or understand all the layers that you’ve approached it with, through years of preparation. Of course, some spoken words during a concert can help, and I’ve often done that – for instance, when I want to share a new work that is unfamiliar to the audience; and it’s also true that I’ve done this sort of thing previously for television and radio. In this case, Deutsche Grammophon presented me with the opportunity to produce an EPK [electronic press kit], including a video; they know that I’m always eager to communicate my ideas about a piece or a repertoire. We live in a world where there are many ways to communicate – including via new technology; but we can use this platform as mere marketing, or we can use it to present an artistic message that helps us communicate something important. And this video became such a chance for me.

NG: I agree that it's incumbent on us, if we want to get our message out, to make use of every medium; and we certainly have different ones than our predecessors. Your video is very effective – not least when you make the suggestion, or challenge, to the audience to listen to both discs as a whole; you then proceed with a detailed and very insightful explanation of the entire program. This type of video-lecture is not very common among new classical releases – perhaps you’ll start a trend.

So, two separate discs, each of which presents Liszt in context with surrounding composers in a distinct way: Disc 1 culminates with the monumental B- Sonata, via preparation by three other 1-movement sonatas [by Wagner, Berg, and Scriabin], each of which in turn is aligned with a late, progressive character piece by Liszt that shows affinity with the techniques and aesthetics of these other sonatas: via form, motivic usage, and especially intervallic relationships. It’s easy to see an inspiration for the other three sonatas, but selecting the corresponding character pieces seems like quite a research and analysis exercise; can you take us through your selection process?

PLA: Sincerely speaking, there is always a mix of intuition and reflection in the choice of pieces that make up a program. For this disc, I wanted to highlight what it means to write a sonata in one movement, to highlight this particular challenge, and to make it sensible to a general audience – since, of course, not everyone is a musicologist or a music analyst. The goal was to show how each of these other sonatas reveals some dimension of the Liszt Sonata: for the Wagner [Piano Sonata in Ab, WWV85 ('Eine Sonate für das Album von Frau Mathilde Wesendonck')], it is Liszt’s connection to and continuity with the Wagnerian music drama; in the case of Berg [Piano Sonata in B-, Op.1], it is his use of form; and in the Scriabin [Piano Sonata No.9 in F (‘Black Mass’), Op.68], it is his use of harmonic language, motives, and virtuosity. Of course, there are many other dimensions as well in each case; but I wanted to create a program that was at once quite varied, but that also has a strong sense of unity.

NG: Now, with regard to the character pieces by Liszt with which you precede these sonatas: all three show some remarkable connections to the sonata that follow. For example, you discuss the use of the ascending minor 6th in both the Wagner Sonata and Liszt’s La lugubre gondola [S.200], as bearing a connection to the “Prelude” to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde; and this connection becomes even more palpable toward the end of the Liszt piece, when you hear the reference to the “Tristan” motive quite clearly. Another striking case involves the link between Liszt’s Nuage gris [S.199] and the Berg Sonata that follows: you discuss the prominent use of the ascending 4th (perfect and augmented) in both pieces; and I was also struck by how the end of the Liszt piece – rising up to the F#, passing from the C below [that is, up an interval of a augmented 4th] – perfectly presages the opening of the Berg [which begins with the successive 4ths: G-C-F#]. It must have been a glorious moment for you to realize, “Aha, this is exactly the piece I need to precede the Wagner, or the Berg, or the Scriabin.” Did you already know of such connections, or did you need to run through lots of music to find just the right link?

PLA: No, of course, it takes a lot of time to make such selections. At the start, I only saw the program with the sonatas, but then noticed that something was missing – and that the program as such was a little short. I wondered, “How can I frame the program in a way that makes for a better connection between the sonatas?” This also provided me with an opportunity to present more pieces by the late Liszt – who I adore and respect so much. Choosing the piece that, as you say, shoots perfectly to the next one in the program – that connects to a similar harmonic language, or that creates a unifying frame, or raises certain ambiguities – requires quite a lot of time: to select the right piece in the right order, through trial and error, et cetera. But this is what truly grants strength, beauty, and richness to a program – it’s what transforms an evening. What makes the difference in a great program is the presence and the order of the pieces, and the slight adjustments you make to give each one it’s proper space: to enlighten the program from one piece to the next. If this is done successfully, you enter another dimension. It’s like placing paintings in the frame of an exhibition in a museum: for instance, placing a painting in a context like the Barnes Foundation [an educational art and horticultural institution near Philadelphia, containing an extraordinary collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings], requires a difference resonance than if you place that same painting in another exhibition.

NG: I think it's fair to say that you are a pianist who has embraced the challenge – and the imperative – of designing a recital that is not just a nice collection, but has meaning above and beyond the individual pieces. For example, one recalls the many creative programs you did at Carnegie Hall [his “Perspectives” series during the 2006-07 season]. Of course, it's not for nothing that Liszt himself is often credited as being the father of the piano recital. And with this program, it does almost feel like an exhibition – where we're traveling on an historical as well as aesthetic path through these various composers.

But before we leave Disc 1, I was actually a bit surprised that in the video you spend relatively little time discussing the seeming “raison d’être” of the disc – Liszt’s own B minor Sonata. Many argue, and you agree I think, that this is perhaps the composer’s masterpiece – but it’s also a herculean task for any pianist. I spoke not long ago to your fellow Deutsche Grammophon pianist and compatriot Hélène Grimaux – who as you may know also recorded both the Liszt and Berg sonatas on a single disc…

PLA: Yes, I noticed that; but by then I had already organized my program – and I didn't want to change it.

NG: I don't think you should have! You both bring something extraordinary to the piece – and that's one of the beauties of this repertoire: that every individual performance brings out something new. When I spoke to Hélène, we discussed the enormous architecture of the piece and its dizzying use of perpetual variation, but also the challenges of sustaining both stamina and focus during this 30-minute arc of non-stop playing. Can you talk about your approach in handling this task?

PLA: What makes this piece so special is its mix of Romantic narrative drama and fantasy, on the one hand, with very strong form, on the other; it embraces at once both sonata form and the full four movements of a traditional piano sonata. You have this very strong architecture, but you also need to keep the declamatory nature of the narrative. It’s likewise important to bring out all the extreme drama of this piece, and also to alternate between what is more “composed” – like the “Fugato” [at the start of the fourth section, Allegro energetico] and what is more “improvised” – like all the small cadenzas; and yet, without interrupting the overall flow. That is, the way to guide the architecture of this piece is completely different than in a big Beethoven piano sonata, for instance.

NG: In our discussion, Hélène noted how even though the B minor Sonata is nearly thirty minutes long – and obviously she's had some issues with her constitution – this piece is surprisingly not terribly tiring: that the balanced flow from virtuosity to calm, and the constant reappearances of the main theme, almost sustains her during the performance. Do you feel similarly?

PLA: Yes, I don't think the Sonata is especially exhausting; first of all, it’s not terribly physical, and certainly not the most difficult thing that Liszt has composed. The difficulty comes in trying to find the right character for a given passage, and yet keep the sense of a strong overall form. What often happens in this piece is that you alternate a moment of beautiful poetry with a big demonstration of technique and drama; and I find that challenging because the architecture of the form and the organization of the themes are so strong that these are what should dictate the performance – in order to create something completely organic.

NG: This reminds me of something you said in 2007. You were talking about your development as a pianist – in your mid-20s, following your early work with Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble InterContemporain, and while you were studying in London with Mario Curcio – how you created a “tabula rasa” for yourself; you wanted to create a distinct sound for every composer you played – from Mozart to Bartok: to play it your way, whether people liked it or not. You've obviously been spending a lot of time with Liszt, both in this recording and in many concerts; I’m thus wondering: can you yet define "your way" of playing Liszt?

PLA: I think I’m actually the last person who is capable of doing that. What I love in Liszt is his artistry and his extremely broad-minded way of being a musician – this is what attracts me so much to his music. He’s a man with a marvelous heart, and he’s a marvelous musical painter, who can be so touching. So, I’m not the pianist who approaches his music as a collection of thirds, sixths, and octaves – this is not what attracts me; it’s not a fireworks display, though of course this is a part of his music. What I love is that this same man who was able to compose such fireworks was also able to compose the 10 Harmonies poétiques et religueses [S.173] – a complicated piece that is incredibly independent and modern; someone who could be so seductive in all aspects of music. And yet someone who at the end of his life could also compose music that has nothing to do with seduction – but instead music that is economical, prophetic, and for me essential.

NG: Throughout so much of your career, your focus has been with contemporary music – though, of course, you’ve also moved beyond to the music of Bach, Beethoven, and others. Prior to this project, had you performed a lot of Liszt?

PLA: I have always played a lot of traditional repertoire, while continuing to focus on new music. In recent years, I’ve had more and more an opportunity to balance my programs in a way that allows me to select the precise material I want to play; this means to embrace as broadly as possible our incredibly rich musical heritage – while likewise to stay in contact with the creation of new works. I’ve never had a wish to exclusively take one approach or the other. On the contrary, I’ve always sought the richness that comes with considering the power of all great creative gestures – which in the context of our tradition means that older music doesn’t necessarily indicate conservatism; that is, to play the Lieder of Schubert of the concertos of Bach doesn’t require a conservative musical attitude. I’ve always needed to play both Schumann and Stockhausen – though, of course, there are some things I play better than others.

As for Liszt, I’ve been playing his music for years; I remember, for example, going on one of my first tours with his 2 Légendes [S.175], when I was around 16 years old. And at each stage of my career, I’ve added more pieces by Liszt – because I fell in love with them. Yet I always felt that one day, instead of having just isolated experiences, I would like to bring all of my favorite pieces together for a special project – and with a special vision, so to speak. I’ve had this wish for decades.

NG: And there's nothing like a 200-year anniversary to be able to focus those kinds of desires.

Before we leave Liszt, let’s touch at least a bit upon Disc 2 of your project – which is an equally creative, if less rigorous program: four pairs of pieces, linking Liszt with a particular composer-of-the-future [Bartok, Ravel, Messiaen, and Marco Stroppa] – itself a reflection, as you say, of Liszt’s own identity as a “Komponist der Zukunft”. This type of arrangement reminded me of one of the “Perspectives” concerts you designed for Carnegie Hall in 2006 – a program called “24 Etudes”, where you linked pairs of etudes of composers like Chopin, Debussy, Rachmininov, Liszt, Messiaen, etc. with an etude by György Ligeti – a composer you’ve long been associated with. So, was this earlier concert in part an inspiration for Disc 2; and can you talk again about your process of selecting these composers and works to associate with Liszt?

PLA: I don’t think that there was a direct link to the Carnegie Hall concert, but I am always very interested in musical confrontation – to hopefully find something consistent and universal in the various pieces of a program. For example, when you consider the pianistic textures in Liszt’s Prédication [“St. Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds”, from 2 Légendes, S.175] and in the piece by Stroppa [“Tangatu manu” from Miniature estrose, Book 1] – both of which touch upon the topic of birds in flight – we see which kinds of answers are given to the same question in two different cultural and historical contexts. This is something that I like to do very much – which in turn can help enlighten aspects of the music. In the Liszt, for example, we might at first hear those textures as somewhat naïve; but in the proper context, we begin to sense his incredible textural poetry, and gradually we come to hear this as a work of great finesse – and this is what I wanted to highlight. Similarly, we hear and feel in Stroppa’s textures a quality that is delicately physical – if not sensual – as well as symbolic.

And, as you say, we have four pairs of pieces on this disc – but the link is always very different, as is the length and even the importance of the pieces. In all, it’s a very systematic way to organize a program – but each time provides a different result.

NG: Indeed, each pair is its own little microcosms; the pairings not only help put Liszt in context, but also help put the other composers in context as well. I think my favorite is the one with the Stroppa piece – in part because the Prédication is such an amazing piece; I wasn’t previously familiar with Marco Stroppa – clearly a composer you’re currently championing.

This may be a stretch, but it almost seems that while Disc 1 is very much a musical and academic exploration of Liszt and his world and legacy, Disc 2 seems as much an exploration of Pierre-Laurent Aimard and his world / legacy, in that you find these great parallels between Liszt and some of the titans of the 20th and 21st century avant-garde – all of whom you’ve explored and championed, most notably Olivier Messiaen. Does that seem a fair observation?

PLA: Perhaps. For me it’s also a good opportunity to make some pieces better known. For example, the name of Messiaen is famous, but many pieces from his Catalogue d’oiseaux are not. The principal of these “bird pieces” may be well known, but not each of the thirteen pieces [in 7 books, totaling some 3 hours of music]; and there is also La fauvette des jardins and the 6 Petites esquisses d'oiseaux. I have already recorded some of these pieces, and the Liszt Project allowed me to put these pieces into a different context. Similarly, with Stroppa: if I were thinking of a more specialized audience, it would be more targeted to record the entire cycle of Miniature estrose [“whimsical miniatures”] – which are fabulous pieces, and I’m very honored that Stroppa has written them for me; as they belong to a very exceptional strata of the piano literature. But presenting this piece here is a way to bring his music to a much larger audience, and to make it acceptable to that part of the audience that otherwise could have a strong psychological resistance to it – as if it were music that should arouse fear. But this way, one just has to hear and feel it in relationship to music that’s more familiar.

A principle goal of this project is not to be pedagogical, but simply to enable those who would otherwise buy this recording for Liszt’s Vallée d’Obermann or the Sonata to also discover one of his late piano works – or perhaps those by Messiaen or Stroppa. This is a very important part of our role as performers: to fight for the repertoire, and to bring it to the audience’s attention. In this way, the repertoire becomes alive, and the audience becomes more knowledgeable.

NG: You took the words right out of my mouth; I've often had this conversation with innovative artists such as yourself – that it really is an obligation of artists to introduce repertoire, whether by a new composer, or by an older composer that is less well-known; it’s part of their obligation to not just perform Chopin Ballades, but to introduce unfamiliar works. It’s educational, if not pedagogical…

PLA: Yes, educational – that’s it, exactly.

NG: Yes, there's so much great music that all hands need to be on-deck; you're also right that in this way we can hear sections of Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux or the pieces by Stroppa in a different way than if they were placed on a disc entirely dedicated to Messiaen or Stroppa.

PLA: Yes – but don't think that I've given up with this music: I hope to record the entire Catalogue d'oiseaux and the entire set of Stroppa pieces.

NG: I have no doubt that you will; and clearly you are a master of this repertoire.

So, closing out on the Liszt Project, I wanted to come back to the Tommasini article on Liszt I mentioned earlier, where beyond praising your new recording, he also highlights the work of musicologist Alan Walker – who cites the many facets of Liszt’s musical identity: composer, pianist, teacher, festival organizer, essayist, writer of program notes, etc. Tommasini also uses this article as an occasion to justify not selecting Liszt as among his own roster of the “greatest” composers of all time – something not terribly controversial; and you too have voiced some criticism of Liszt as a composer – often having a lack of focus or concentration. But you’ve also noted that in those moments where he does successfully synthesize his own contradictions, he can achieve greatness – as he does in the B minor Sonata. So, now that you’ve completed this project, how would you sum up his place in music history, and his ranking as a composer?

PLA: It’s perhaps a bit unfortunate that the booklet that accompanies this recording begins with this question [i.e., as posed to Mr. Aimard by Wolfgang Rathert: “Liszt has always seemed like a traveller commuting between different musical worlds. This gives his music a certain restlessness and has led to the reproach that he was never really able to write large-scale, self-contained, fully developed works. Is this true?”]; and perhaps my answer was too critical [e.g., “There was nothing he couldn’t translate and transcribe into music, but one might often wish that he’d been a little more focused and had striven to impose a more rigorous sense of form on all this wealth of material.”]. I love and admire Liszt immensely for his incredibly innovative qualities, and for the generosity that allowed him to be so vital for the musical life of his era, and for his contemporaries.

NG: Yes, such a diverse and copious output he produced; he's one of the lucky ones who enjoyed a nice, long life; and how lucky we are that he lived to a ripe old age – because he was able to transcend into musical domains that no one else dreamed of at that time. He really seemed to know where music was going.

PLA: And you know why else it's so positive that he lived into old age: he was the only pianist of his generation who could stimulate and influence the production of the piano itself throughout much of the 19th century; that’s something for which we can all be very thankful.

NG: Absolutely – that's another rich dimension of his importance.

In the closing minutes, Pierre-Laurent – I would have loved to have been able to go into detail about your work with the great luminaries of contemporary music; but just a couple of very quick questions.

First of all – I just have to ask: you've been the pianist of choice for perhaps the three most influential composers of the second half of the 20th century – Messaien, Boulez, and Ligeti – which requires not only phenomenal technique but unusually advanced skills in music analysis, and a great ear. I read that you studied composition in your youth with Gyorgy Kurtág; and so is there a catalogue of Pierre-Laurent Aimard pieces waiting in the wings?

PLA: I'm absolutely not a composer; I've never composed a single note of music, and in fact, I've never even studied composition.

NG: Oh ­– okay; then what I read was incorrect...

PLA: In fact, after having studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Yvonne Loriod [pianist, teacher, and wife of Olivier Messiaen], and then privately in London with Maria Curcio, I traveled all over to meet various pianists. Around this time, I got the chance to travel to Budapest to meet Kurtág – and I immediately sensed that he was one of the most illuminating musicians I’d ever met; I attended some of his classes simply to spend as much time with him as I could – because I felt there was something so essential in the way he made music.

NG: I see; but you've never had the calling, or been inspired, to compose yourself?

PLA: No, I don't have that talent.

NG: It is interesting how musical talent is a many-splendored thing; and how each musician has some skills but not others.

PLA: I do compose my own cadenzas for Mozart concertos – but this, in fact, is not really composing; it's just writing out an improvisation.

NG: Fair enough. Of course, music history is filled with examples of leading performers who have worked with the top composers of their day – as you have done; and at times in a manner that had a direct impact on the new works being written. For example, I spoke with Daniel Hope about his Joachim project – and the influence that this violinist had on such leading composers as Brahms, Schumann, Dvorák, and Bruch. I’m not wanting to put you on the spot, but given the many top composers you’ve worked with, the many pieces you’ve have dedicated to you, and the many premieres you’ve given, can you cite any examples, general or specific, where your interaction with one of these or composers had a significant impact on the technical, stylistic, or even aesthetic nature of the work?

PLA: Well, I'm sorry to say that the interaction is generally much less than what one might think. Composers, especially strong composers, have their own world, their own identity. Perhaps their works can be somehow guided by the technique or the sonority of the particular performer, but I don’t think we should be too pretentious in this regard, sincerely speaking. It does happen, admittedly, that a composer can ask – if he doesn’t play that instrument – if something is playable; or perhaps the performer will help to adjust the written tempo. And what is interesting is that the composer can adjust his written dynamic or phrase markings based on what a performer does – to communicate these to everyone. But I think that we performers are the people who try to interpret the piece, and then the composer can react to this interpretation in his score. I have noticed that there is this “fantasy” that the performer plays a big role in the composer’s work – but my experience has led me to be modest in this regard [laughs].

NG: I’ve now spoken with several performers – most recently violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter – who have been the subject of musical dedications; and I think there is a bit of a tendency for performers, even as top-tiered as the two of you, to indeed be very modest in this regard. I’m sure that we’d hear a slightly different response from the composers themselves; clearly they are the catalysts for their works, but knowing that they will be placed in such capable hands makes a difference – as does perhaps the actual personality of the artists. Perhaps, indeed, this dynamic makes an impact that neither you nor the composers would be aware of at the time.

At any rate, we are all very grateful to you for helping bring this music not only to life, but also to greater exposure – whether Liszt or Messiaen. And we’ll look forward to your forthcoming CD of Stroppa’s music, and other composers you help bring to our attention.

PLA: Thank you very much for your excellent questions.



Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs Bach’s Art of the Fugue, Contrapunctus 4
(from Legato, World of the Piano: Aimard, 2008)

Our collaboration with MediciTV continues with an outstanding excerpt from Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s 2008 concert that appeared as part of director Jan Schmidt-Garre’s 4-part series, Legato, World of the Piano. This excerpt from this intimate recital features Aimard performing the Contrapunctus 4 (simple inversion fugue with countersubject) from J.S. Bach’s Art of the Fugue. Visit MediciTV for the full performance (which beyond the Bach includes works by Beethoven, Elliott Carter, and George Benjamin), and to explore their outstanding collection of concert and film music videos – and look for more direct collaborations between Classical Archives and MediciTV in the near future. Enjoy!

See this full video on

2008 – Johann Sebastian Bach, Art of the Fugue (Der Kunst der Fuge), BWV1080, Contrapunctus 4 (Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano)

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