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Pierre-Laurent Aimard|Bartók: Piano Concertos

Bartók: Piano Concertos

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, San Francisco Symphony, Esa-Pekka Salonen

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Bartók's three piano concertos, unlike his string quartets, are not evenly distributed across his career; the first two come from the period of his thorniest music in the 1920s and early '30s, while the Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major was one of the last things he wrote in 1945 and was left with its final detail unfinished. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in A major and especially the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major are perilously difficult. Most difficult works are now easily within the capabilities of well-drilled conservatory graduates, but not this one; András Schiff said that when he plays it, he leaves blood on the keyboard. Here, the pianist is Pierre-Laurent Aimard, a contemporary music specialist not known for virtuoso music. However, he was a student of Yvonne Loriod, who gave one of the earliest performances of the Piano Concerto No. 2, and he may have picked up a few tricks. It may be the general approach that he learned from Loriod; instead of letting the work turn into a finger-buster, he adopts a somewhat gentler approach. That may not seem what is desired in a true virtuoso Hungarian work (which Bartók wrote for himself to play), but it allows room for the expansive detail work that conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony bring to the music. Listen to the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2, which has an impressive smoothness and confidence. In fact, it is only in the Piano Concerto No. 3, written in Bartók's broader and more tuneful late style, that Aimard disappoints somewhat. However, this album is well worth hearing; it represents a fresh take on some difficult repertory standards.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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Bartók: Piano Concertos

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

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Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Major, Sz. 83 (Béla Bartók)

1
I. Allegro moderato — Allegro
00:09:27

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

2
II. Andante — attacca
00:07:42

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

3
III. Allegro molto
00:07:25

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Sz. 95 (Béla Bartók)

4
I. Allegro
00:09:50

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

5
II. Adagio — Presto — Più adagio
00:12:50

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

6
III. Allegro molto
00:06:29

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

Piano Concerto No. 3 in E Major, Sz. 119 (Béla Bartók)

7
I. Allegretto
00:07:59

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

8
II. Adagio religioso
00:10:21

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

9
III. Allegro vivace
00:07:18

San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra, MainArtist - Bela Bartok, Composer - Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano, MainArtist - Esa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor, MainArtist - Jason O'Connell, Producer

2023 Pentatone Music B.V. 2023 San Francisco Symphony

Album review

Bartók's three piano concertos, unlike his string quartets, are not evenly distributed across his career; the first two come from the period of his thorniest music in the 1920s and early '30s, while the Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major was one of the last things he wrote in 1945 and was left with its final detail unfinished. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in A major and especially the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major are perilously difficult. Most difficult works are now easily within the capabilities of well-drilled conservatory graduates, but not this one; András Schiff said that when he plays it, he leaves blood on the keyboard. Here, the pianist is Pierre-Laurent Aimard, a contemporary music specialist not known for virtuoso music. However, he was a student of Yvonne Loriod, who gave one of the earliest performances of the Piano Concerto No. 2, and he may have picked up a few tricks. It may be the general approach that he learned from Loriod; instead of letting the work turn into a finger-buster, he adopts a somewhat gentler approach. That may not seem what is desired in a true virtuoso Hungarian work (which Bartók wrote for himself to play), but it allows room for the expansive detail work that conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony bring to the music. Listen to the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2, which has an impressive smoothness and confidence. In fact, it is only in the Piano Concerto No. 3, written in Bartók's broader and more tuneful late style, that Aimard disappoints somewhat. However, this album is well worth hearing; it represents a fresh take on some difficult repertory standards.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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