“The masterly French musician” Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who is “among the greats of his generation” (Chicago Tribune) presents the first of two programs that explores the groundbreaking piano works of Beethoven—music so revolutionary that composers continue to emulate his style 250 years after his birth.
The program, entitled “Beethoven and the Avant-Garde,” begins with Schoenberg’s Five Pieces, witty works shot through with bold, experimental harmonies and culminating in a rollicking waltz. Beethoven, too, was experimenting with new, more expressive harmonies while writing his early Sonata in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3. This sonata, famous for its expansive yet intimate “Grand Largo,” is a perfect showcase for Mr. Aimard, who can “dazzle with his dexterity” but whose richly colorful playing can “expose a streak of dark, troubling melancholy beneath the wistful surface…” (The Guardian). That streak of melancholy is also present in Beethoven’s turbulent “Appassionata,” one of his most beloved piano works, which bears the influence of Beethoven’s anger, sorrow, and, finally, resignation at the rapidly progressing loss of his hearing. Finally, we are treated to a rare performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstück IX, a specialty of Mr. Aimard’s that uses a mathematical game in order to conjure sonorous melodies out of incessantly repeated chords.