Rave reviews for Pierre Laurent Aimard: Catch him this December

Pierre-Laurent Aimard has had a busy start to the season at Southbank Centre, launching the International Piano Series in October as Artistic Advisor for our Pierre Boulez weekend festival, and then on 8th November performing a concert celebrating the Liszt bicentenary.

Aimard returns on 7 December continuing on his celebration of Liszt, setting the composer in context with his contemporaries and imnmediate successors.

Here are some rave reviews from his last concert:

“Liszt’s “Les jeux d’eaux a la Villa d’Este” [was] followed by Ravel’s lovely reworking of the idea, Aimard creating textures of dazzling beauty.” (The Independent)

“This was a brilliant recital from start to finish.” (Seen and Heard International)

“Aimard is a master of fine gradations of colour and weight, as was shown in Liszt’s Aux cyprès and Bartók’s Dirge, which had a similar huge melancholy weightiness.” (The Telegraph)

Pierre-Laurent Aimard CD review

Liszt, Bartok, Berg et al – The Liszt Project
Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)

Deutsche Grammophon 4779439
There’s intelligent method in this two-disc mega-recital. On the first disc, three of Liszt’s late experimental works each precede a single-movement sonata — by Wagner, Berg and Scriabin — before Aimard plays Liszt’s own single-movement B minor sonata. Disc two ingeniously pairs four works from Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage collections with descriptive pieces by Bartok, Marco Stroppa, Ravel and Messiaen, highlighting poetic, formal, textural and gestural similarities galore. Aimard’s readings are characterised by a clarity that allows detail and shape rightful pre-eminence. Stephen Pettitt

Fiona Maddocks – The Observer

Bombarded as we are by Liszt recordings in his anniversary year, this is refreshingly different. Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is also a skilled maker of programmes (he is currently director of the Aldeburgh festival). This recital, recorded live in Vienna’s Konzerthaus, celebrates Liszt’s influence on subsequent composers: Wagner (his little known sonata in A flat), Scriabin (the bizarre “Black Mass” sonata), Bartók, Berg, Ravel, Messiaen and Marco Stroppa (b 1959). Since large quantities of Liszt in one sitting can be indigestible, this is an excellent way into the B minor sonata and sections of Années de pèlerinage.

Aimard performs these works on Tuesday 8 November at Queen Elizabeth Hall

‘Boulez enthrals South Bank audience in London’

‘He is the most influential composer of the second half of the 20th Century and at 86 Pierre Boulez is still writing new works.’

Last weekend we celebrated the miraculous beauty of Pierre Boulez’s music with Resident Orchestra London Sinfonietta, Artistic Advisor pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Royal Academy of Music and the man himself with his Ensemble intercontemporain.

The BBC’s correspondent Alexander Kan was there to watch / Watch exclusive interviews and clips from the festival >>

Come down to Southbank Centre this weekend and try some Boulez

This weekend we celebrate the music of Pierre Boulez. Boulez’s music fuses scientific precision with gorgeous, fluid sound. Boulez himself comments that ‘creation must express a certain transcendence’. He explains that ‘For me a musical idea is like a seed which you plant in compost, and suddenly it begins to proliferate like a weed.’


The festival kicks off tonight with the Royal Academy of Music performing two versions of the same work, which illustrate how Boulez’s music has evolved across the years.



London Sinfonietta presents a concert of electronic music with Sound Intermedia on Saturday night in Queen Elizabeth Hall. Hear almost all of Boulez’s piano works performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich on Sunday.

The weekend draws to a close when Boulez in person where he conducts his masterpiece Pli selon pli with soprano Barbara Hannigan, Ensemble intercontemporain and the Lucerne Festival Academy Ensemble. 


Check out our online classical music guide

Welcome to Southbank Centre’s 2011/12 classical music season packed with
musical greats, firsts and concerts from our four world-class Resident Orchestras. Visit our online guide to take you through our packed programme!
We kicked off the season in full swing with a sold out performance from Apartment House of John Cage Night as part of International Chamber Music Season. Read Guardian review

Southbank Centre Resident Orchestras London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra have launched their seasons with principal conductors Vladimir Jurowski and Esa-Pekka Salonen and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment launch their season this evening with a concert featuring Robert Levin and Charles Hazelwood followed by their late-night series, The Night Shift at 10pm.

This weekend Southbank Centre celebrates the music of Pierre Boulez featuring Resident Orchestra London Sinfonietta, Royal Academy of Music, almost all of Boulez’s works performed by pianists Aimard and Stefanovich, culminating in the launch of Shell Classic International, bringing great orchestras from around the world to Royal Festival Hall on Sunday with Ensemble intercontemporain, soprano Barbara Hannigan and Boulez himself performing Pli selon pli.

Explore the programme and pick out your favourites with our online guide.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays Ravel

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a pianist who refuses to be pigeon-holed. He can be playing Beethoven one night and a world premiere the next and yet he brings the same clarity of vision to both performances.

In his International Piano Series recital tonight he will be demonstrating this remarkable versatility in a programme including music by Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel and George Benjamin. Aimard and Benjamin have been friends for many years, since the time of Benjamin’s studies with Messiaen and later with Boulez’s Ensemble InterContemporain.  Tonight’s performance of Benjamin’s Fantasy on Iambic Rhythm comes by way of a 50th birthday tribute to the composer.

Aimard reunites with Boulez once again in his latest disc for Deutsche Grammophon. Alongside the Ravel piano concertos the recording includes Ravel’s Miroirs which he will play in his recital and which has just been given a four star review by Audiophile magazine. 

If you enjoy the performance then you will be able to buy the CD after the recital and get it signed by the artist!

Tracy Lees

Get to know oboist Nicholas Daniel

Oboist Nicholas Daniel talks about his career, loves and memories ahead of his concert with Britten Sinfonia on 18 October, when he will premiere James MacMillan’s Oboe Concerto.

You’ve been with Britten Sinfonia since its formation, what is your favourite memory from the concert platform?

It has to be premiering John Tavener’s Kaleidoscopes. That piece has something very special inside it, and it was a huge physical challenge. It was really the combination of the inspiration of the work and the relief that I found I could actually play it at all!

And what is your fondest memory from backstage with the orchestra?

It’s very focussed backstage actually, and we all have places to go afterwards, but I loved when we came offstage after a Mozart Piano Concerto at Aldeburgh with Pierre Laurent Aimard, and he shocked me by saying ‘we were fabulous!”…. and then made me roar with laughter by saying ‘but as always, he was better’ meaning Mozart!

What’s it like to play within an orchestra’s woodwind section rather than as a soloist?

Hard. Much more time to be stressed and much more responsibility! I have to really work at being good at it.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I don’t think in those terms really, I look at the now as much as I can rather the past or the future, but I guess if you push me: always the Proms, the BBC Competition 30 years ago, obviously, but generally the highlights are when I play a new piece for the first time, it’s just such an honour and a buzz. John Woolrich’s Concerto for instance-such a moving work. I am also so happy when my wonderful students have successes in and out of the teaching studio. They work so hard.

When are you happiest?

I try and live in the now, I’m generally a very happy person and try to get maximum pleasure from each experience.  I would say;  when I’m with my sons, when I’m making music, when my students improve and notice it, when I’m with people I love, on taking off in a plane and at the sound of a fine bottle of red wine or Champagne being opened!

What is your earliest musical memory?

Gilbert and Sullivan at my piano teacher’s school in Welwyn Garden City.  I was 5 and was riveted!

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

The Dalai Lama. His ability to give of himself is so inspiring and effortless. He embodies love and patience and the stillest of still places. I have an ambition to meet him.

What is your most treasured possession?

Other than my oboe it has to be my iphone! It is simply indispensable. I would bore you by going on about all the lovely things it does for me… I also have some  beautiful multi-coloured sand that I was given from a Sand Mandala by the Monks of the Drepung Loselung Monastery when they came to my Festival in Leicester. They have some of my CDs in the library there now! It was a simply mind-blowing experience to see what happened when they blessed this art with music and prayer. They gave little bags of the sand from the destroyed mandala to us. The energy I feel from that sand is still incredible, I generally keep it near my oboe.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Straight to Bach’s Leipzig to start with to meet him and save all the lost music, then drop off on my way back to now at Mozart’s time to find what he did with the lost oboe concertos, then on to Beethoven, to rip the still-wet manuscript of the also lost oboe concerto out of his hands, then to visit Debussy to get him to hurry up with that sonata for oboe horn and harpsichord before he dies, then on to the young Leon Goossens to threaten him with extreme violence if he didn’t get concertos and sonatas out of his friends Sibelius, Ravel, Stravinsky, Elgar, and Britten.

How do you relax away from the concert platform?

It’s a joy to be with my sons and attend various of their happenings. I’ve taken up running, thanks to my trusty iphone and a programme called ‘couch to 5k’ which guides one through (over my own choice of music) to being able to run 5 kilometres 3 times a week over 3 months. I love to cook, the theatre, I just saw and love La Bete, musical theatre, (Priscilla!!) my eldest son is studying MT in London, concerts, cinema, walking, good wine, cocktails with friends, clubbing (!). I have a small collection of very fine contemporary art that I am very proud of and love passionately. Most of it was bought through the Thomas Robertello Gallery in Chicago. He’s a great friend of mine and I trust his taste in artists and in which are their best and most investment-worthy pieces. For instance Adam Eckberg, I have 3 of his works and Mike Nudelman is AMAZING.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Other than my sons, and in fact they are their own achievement, I would say it was the legacy of works I have commissioned and premiered over the last 30 years, and the fact that I have been able to take a relatively rare instrument and make it a little more known on a solo basis. I’m also very proud of the fine musicians I have helped to become professionals through my teaching, and of the ones I’m about to unleash on the public!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

To listen, in every respect, and to be myself, and I will hopefully be enough.


James MacMillan conducts the London premiere of his new Oboe Concerto, written for Nicholas Daniel and the Britten Sinfonia, on Monday 18 October. The concert also features works by Shostakovich and Beethoven. Click here for details and online booking.