August 17, 2023

Pierre-Laurent Aimard Joins Forces With San Francisco Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen on ‘Bartók’s Piano Concertos’

Pentatone releases Bartók Piano Concertos, together with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the San Francisco Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen, in September 2023.

A Slice of Bartók’s Musical Life

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard joins forces with the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen for a recording of Bartók’s complete piano concertos. A pianist himself, Bartók imbued his three concertos with multiple aspects of his compositional persona, ranging from complex and innovative (the First) to exuberant (the Second) and serene (the Third). The result is a fascinating slice of his musical life. This all-Bartók release marks the first Pentatone collaboration between Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, an ensemble he has reshaped through creative performance concepts and expansive new media projects.

A renowned champion of twentieth-century music, Pierre-Laurent Aimard has released multiple acclaimed albums in his exclusive contract with Pentatone, including Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux (2018) and Visions de l’Amen (2022), along with Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata & Eroica Variations (2021). He also joined Tamara Stefanovich in Etudes and Frames (2023), with music by Vassos Nicolaou. Salonen returns to the label for the first time since his recording of Stravinsky’s Perséphone (2018); the San Francisco Symphony previously appeared on the 2005 Pentatone release Young America.

Bartók’s own recordings teach us the extent to which every musical dimension nourishes every moment of his works – including his virtuosity. By this, I mean the extent to which everything in his work is melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, architectural, and also phrased, pulsed, spoken, sung and experienced.

Hungary attracted me so much in my younger years: I spent a lot of time with Hungarians and their country. It was not only a privilege but also a choice to work in depth with great Hungarian masters such as György Kurtág, Simon Albert and Péter Eötvös. And nothing could have brought me closer to such linguistically singular music than learning the Hungarian language.

For me, Bartók’s piano concertos are among the most demanding in the repertoire, due to their combination of instrumental challenge and musical significance. Their intensity is incandescent.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Digital Release Date: 15 SEPTEMBER 2023

Physical Release: SEPTEMBER 2023

Released as 1 CD and in digital formats for streaming and high-resolution downloads.