Nikolaus Harnoncourt described him as "a combination of interpretative genius and insanity". A concert review in the Los Angeles Times pronounced him "a pianist of illumination and color. He makes everything he plays clear and vibrant." No doubt about it: Pierre-Laurent Aimard is one of the most interesting, sensitive and at the same time radical pianists of our time.
The ever-curious Aimard was exposed to new music early on. At the age of just twelve he was introduced to Olivier Messiaen, later establishing himself as the preferred interpreter of his works. This and later encounters with the foremost contemporary composers have made him a key figure in new music. Not only was he pianist with Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble Intercontemporain for over 18 years at the start of his career, but he also worked closely with Gyorgy Ligeti for over 15 years, recording his complete works for piano. Be it the piano concertos of Arnold Schoenberg, Béla Bartók and Maurice Ravel or chamber works by Charles Ives, Gyorgy Ligeti and Pierre Boulez, the French pianist has always understood how to communicate even the most awkward of pieces to an audience through his clear and sensitive playing.
Aimard has also enjoyed great success in so-called standard repertoire, appearing with leading conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Simon Rattle, Seiji Ozawa, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Jonathan Nott and Franz Welser-Most. As Artist in Residence in the 2015-16 season, Pierre-Laurent Aimard turns to another innovator of music history: Ludwig van Beethoven and his five piano concertos. From the first two concertos op. 15 and op. 19, with their exuberant, joyful playing style typical of concertos at that time, to the Fifth op. 73, with its completely new, symphonic style, the piano concertos show the radical development in Beethoven’s composition. This radicalism and the composer’s irrepressible drive for new forms of musical expression are at the centre of how Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Philippe Jordan and the Wiener Symphoniker will approach the concertos. All the more so as each concert will pair them with a major orchestral work by Béla Bartók. And as a special "treat", Aimard will also appear in the Chamber Music cycle with Philippe Jordan and musicians of the Wiener Symphoniker.