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#352329 - 12/06/01 08:15 AM Ever heard of this pianist?
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
From New York Times:

December 5, 2001


A Pianist Gathers the Radicals


There is a tendency in the classical music field
to consign any artist strongly committed to
playing music by living composers to the suspect
category, some sort of off-putting contemporary
music specialist. The French pianist Pierre-Laurent
Aimard has been so tainted since 1976, when, at
19, he was asked by Pierre Boulez to become the
resident pianist of his Ensemble Intercontemporain.
Perhaps this explains why Mr. Aimard has not yet
achieved widespread recognition.

That is finally changing. Mr. Aimard, 44, made his
long-awaited Carnegie Hall recital debut on
Monday night. And though there were some empty
seats, there was a palpable sense in the hall that the
concertgoing public has come to realize what an
extraordinary pianist and major musician Mr.
Aimard is.

Those who expected him to be some kind of
steely-fingered modernist were surely surprised.
Gangly and bespectacled, dressed in his trademark
black pants and Nehru shirt, he has a focused and
bookish stage manner. His technical facility is
astonishing. You learn a lot about color, accent and
articulation by playing the formidably difficult works
of Boulez and Messiaen.

For this occasion, on the page the program looked
hardly radical. The centerpiece was a war horse,
Beethoven's "Appassionata," framed by works of
Berg, Liszt and Debussy. Only three études by Gyorgy Ligeti, written in 1985,
betrayed Mr. Aimard's sympathies for living composers.

Yet what came through in Mr. Aimard's inciteful performances was that each of
these composers from whatever era was a radical. He began with Berg's compact,
single-movement, texturally dense early Piano Sonata, Op. 1. While many pianists
emphasize the music's harmonically unhinged, Expressionistic turbulence, Mr.
Aimard's performance was lucid, subtle and delicate. It led perfectly to the

Those used to more Germanic, weighty and viscerally dramatic performances of the
"Appassionata" might have been disappointed by Mr. Aimard's Apollonian
approach. But this was a refreshing take on the work: the last movement was a
relentless rush of tremulous riffs and blurry colorings.

In Liszt's "St. François de Paule Marchant sur les Flots," an evocation of the miracle
of the fearless saint striding across the stormy waters of the Straits of Messina, Mr.
Aimard captured the surging waves and swells in his deft execution of the
keyboard-spanning runs and virtuosic passage work. Yet piercing through the
teeming outbursts, a sturdy hymnal theme rang out, utterly unperturbed.

Mr. Aimard brought wondrous colorings, incredible subtleties of touch and
poignantly cool expressiveness to Books 1 and 2 of Debussy's "Images." His idea,
surely, was to let the Debussy prepare us for Mr. Ligeti's three staggeringly difficult
études: in "Autumn in Warsaw," for example, the pianist would seem to be playing
three and even four different things at once, all happening at different speeds. But by
emphasizing the whooshing colors of the Ligeti and the obsessively spiraling
figurations of, say, Debussy's "Mouvement," Mr. Aimard made these quite different
composers seem like radical soulmates of the 20th century.

Incredibly, some people, perhaps two dozen (timid souls still leery of contemporary
music?), left before the Ligeti. But for the cheering audience that remained, Mr.
Aimard played three encores, including another Ligeti étude, a Debussy étude, and
the 11th piece from Messiaen's "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus."

As word gets around, Mr. Aimard's two appearances with the Orchestra de Paris
late in January at Carnegie Hall will be hot tickets.

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#352330 - 12/07/01 08:05 AM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Here's another one. Just wonder anyone around here has more info...

Chilean pianist Oscar Gacitua
commits suicide

The Associated Press
12/6/01 2:35 PM

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Chilean pianist Oscar Gacitua killed himself by
hurling himself under a subway train, his daughter said. He was 76.

Gacitua was considered one of the greatest Chilean pianists and an expert
in interpreting Chopin. In 1959, he received a prize in the Chopin
competition in Warsaw, Poland.

Gacitua called one of his sons to explain his decision before killing himself
Wednesday, said his daughter, Rebeca Gacitua. The son tried to talk the
pianist out of his decision for more than an hour.

"He was extremely depressed," Rebeca Gacitua said. "He was going
through a bad time. He was terrified of old age and had no motivation to

Rebeca Gacitua also searched for her father on the streets near his home
until the police informed her of his suicide.

Oscar Gacitua's early talent was encouraged by the renowned Chilean
pianist Claudio Arrau, living in the United States. With Arrau's help, Oscar
Gacitua obtained a scholarship to study in New York for three years.

Chilean Juan Pablo Izquierdo, director of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic
in Pittsburgh, said Thursday that Oscar Gacitua was one of the most
talented pianists of his generation.

"He was a pianist that, apart from having great innate talent, also
demonstrated great interest in looking for solutions within music,"
Izquierdo said.

At the time of his death, Oscar Gacitua was preparing a January concert
featuring works of Rachmaninov on the beaches of Vina del Mar, Chile.

#352331 - 12/10/01 02:37 AM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
yok Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/01
Posts: 497
Loc: New Zealand
I was just reading a Gramophone magazine from last year, the one with Daniel Barenboim on the cover with his new Beethoven symphony cycle. Anyway, Pierre-Laurent Aimard was interviewed in it and his recording of Vingt Regards very warmly reviewed. Apparently Messiaen heard him play at the age of twelve and said something like "I have to have him." Hence Aimard was practically adopted by Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod. He began studying the Vingt Regards at thirteen and first performed them complete at seventeen (!). He sounds like a very interesting musician.

#352332 - 12/10/01 07:56 PM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
Brendan Offline

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5548
Loc: McAllen, TX
I just bought his Vingt Regards last month; it's quite different from Serkin's epic rendition. He uses half the amount of pedal and takes tempi that are closer to what Messiaen indicated (Serkin tends to verge on the edge of hysteria more than timidness), but somehow I feel that in many of the Regards he is just playing the notes, most obviously in "Adoration of the Church of Love" and "Adoration of the Spirit of Joy," both of which sound a little bit too much like Etudes for my tastes.

Not that I mean that in the most pejorative context, but the fundamental problem is along the same lines as Richard Goode's Beethoven Sonatas - exquisitely done and very pianistically presented, but generally lacking an intimate association with the music. For all of the eccentricities of Serkin's recording, I still find it very compelling to listen to. Thus, one could even go as far to say that Aimard's recording is well-rooted in the international style of piano performance - solidly done but impersonal.

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#352333 - 12/11/01 01:50 PM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1708
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Do you know if Peter Serkin's recording is still in print? I have been unable to locate it.
Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

#352334 - 12/11/01 03:59 PM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
netizen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 1926
Loc: New York
I don't believe that RCA has reissued these on CD. You might find the LP's through Berkshire Records or another such outfit. Other Serkin recordings of Messiaen are, however, available.

I much prefer Hakon Austbo's and Aimard's respective recordings. I've not heard Michel Beroff's, but would be interested in hearing from others who have heard. Good luck with your search.

[ December 11, 2001: Message edited by: netizen ]
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."-- Theodore Roosevelt

#352335 - 12/11/01 11:50 PM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
Brendan Offline

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5548
Loc: McAllen, TX
I've heard the Austbo and the Beroff. I feel that Austbo is kind of sloppy and a bit cautious in the more virtuosic Regards. Beroff, on the other hand, plays the set like it was written for him.

One recording which I've been unable to find but would give my unborn children to get a hold of is Loriod's. I hear that is unbelievable, but neither the university nor the public library has it, and I can't find it in any shops in Cincy.


#352336 - 12/12/01 09:28 AM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
netizen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 1926
Loc: New York
Thanks, Brendan. I'll keep an eye out for the Beroff cd. I'm surprised that you find Austbo "a bit sloppy" as the recording has been gathering lots of praise. His performance last year at the Messiaen festival here in NYC was hugely successful. Interestingly, Austbo has worked closely with Yvonne Loriod (and Messiaen himself). As for Loriod, you can order the Erato set through Amazon.com.

[ December 12, 2001: Message edited by: netizen ]
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."-- Theodore Roosevelt

#352337 - 12/12/01 10:44 AM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
Brendan Offline

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5548
Loc: McAllen, TX
Well, I didn't listen to the whole thing, (just the Spirit of Joy) so maybe I'm calling the whole bag of chips stale after eating just one. I'll give it another listen soon.

#352338 - 12/19/01 05:25 PM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
Matt G. Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 3789
Loc: Plainfield, IL
If I may ask, what kind of piano was Aimard playing on the Vingt Regards recording? I've heard a couple of selections on the radio. Maybe it was bad reception, but when I heard the Noel, it sounded quite odd to me, almost brittle. So dry that the soundboard could've cracked and few would have noticed.

I agree with your assessment of Aimard's playing, technically excellent but failing to project any of the emotional content. Maybe all those years with Boulez weren't so good in some respects.
Sacred cows make the best hamburger. - Clemens

#352339 - 12/21/01 01:58 PM Re: Ever heard of this pianist?
Brendan Offline

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5548
Loc: McAllen, TX
I'm looking at both the program notes and the case and I can't seem to locate anything about the piano. I do agree now that I listen more closely; it does sound a little brittle.

I also relistened to Austbo's recording and have to stand by my initial impression. He just fakes too much of the technical work. Maybe he just had a bad recording day and was wonderful in NYC recently, but judging by the recording I'm just not very impressed.


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