French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is perhaps best known for two things: his illuminating performances of contemporary music, and his searching accounts of the works of Beethoven.
How lucky we are to experience both in a single program, which demonstrates how techniques and devices first employed by Beethoven are still used in the piano music of today. The program begins with Schoenberg’s Five Pieces, a characterful, richly chromatic work of grave beauty which culminates in a rollicking twelve-tone waltz. Then, one of Beethoven’s most experimental utterances: the Sonata in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3, which is perhaps most famous for the “Grand Largo”, a movement which shows the master at his most intimate. In the second half, Beethoven’s renowned “Appassionata” precedes a work by the German revolutionary Karlheinz Stockhausen. Requiring impeccable control on the part of the pianist, this study creates its melodies from the emphasis of different notes in a series of incessantly repeated chords.