LSM Newswire

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pierre Boulez leads The Cleveland Orchestra in all-French program featuring music by Debussy, Messiaen, and Ravel at Severance Hall on February 4, 6, and 7

Pierre Boulez 

Concerts are part of international celebrations of Boulez’s 85th birthday
Pierre-Laurent Aimard is soloist in Ravel’s Piano Concerto  in G major and Concerto for the Left Hand

CLEVELAND, January 12, 2010 – In the first week of Cleveland concerts marking the 85th birthday year and the 45th anniversary year of Pierre Boulez’s American professional orchestra debut with The Cleveland Orchestra, the conductor/composer will lead the Orchestra in a program of French music including Debussy’s “Ibéria” from Images and Messiaen’s L’Ascension at Severance Hall on Thursday, February 4, at 8 p.m., Saturday, February 6, at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, February 7, at 3:00 p.m.  Mr. Boulez will also conduct the Orchestra in concerts on February 11, 12, and 13, featuring music by Mahler.  (A separate concert announcement will follow.) 
The program for February 4, 6, and 7 begins with Olivier Messiaen’s L’Ascension (Four Symphonic Meditations). Next is Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major.  After intermission, the program continues with Ravel’s Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand.  The program concludes with Claude Debussy’s “Ibéria” from Images.
Mr. Boulez, who from 1970-72 served as musical advisor of The Cleveland Orchestra, turns 85 on March 26.   He has been a regular and favorite guest conductor of the Orchestra, leading more than 200 concerts. Among his many recordings with the Orchestra, five have won Grammy Awards, including the 1969 award in the “Best Classical Performance, Orchestra” category, for their album including Debussy’s Images.
When Pierre Boulez turned 80, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “… how many enfants terribles of the music world have lived to see their work, their contributions as composers, conductors and advocates celebrated around the world as they mark their 80th birthdays? The category is unique, and the sole designate is Pierre Boulez.”  
  Pierre-Laurent Aimard will be soloist in both of the Ravel piano concertos, which will be recorded live for future release on the Deutsche Gramophone label.  Mr. Boulez and Mr. Aimard have worked together as colleagues over many years, since Pierre Boulez appointed Mr. Aimard (then age 19) as the first solo pianist of the Ensemble Inter­Contemporain – the Paris-based contemporary music ensemble Mr. Boulez founded in 1976.

            French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez is regarded as one of the world’s most distinguished musicians.  His 2009 Kyoto Prize affirms the importance of his compositions and activities as author, teacher, and advocate of contemporary music. 
Mr. Boulez made his American professional orchestra debut with The Cleveland Orchestra in March 1965.  In 1969, he became the Orchestra’s first principal guest conductor.  Following the death of Music Director George Szell in July 1970, he served as musical advisor through the 1971-72 season.  Since then, he has been a frequent guest conductor with the Orchestra, most recently in February 2008. 
Pierre Boulez was born in 1925 in Montbrison, France.  After initial training in mathematics, he studied piano, composition, and choral conducting at the Paris Conservatory, where his teachers included Olivier Messiaen and René Leibowitz.  In 1953, Mr. Boulez founded a modern music concert series that later became the Domaine Musical.  Throughout the next decade, he taught at Basel University and in Darmstadt, and was a visiting professor at Harvard University.  He later joined the faculty at the Collège de France.
In 1971, Pierre Boulez became music director of both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic; he held the posts until 1975 and 1977, respectively.  In 1974, French President Georges Pompidou invited Mr. Boulez to establish and direct a music research center – the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM).  He also founded the Ensemble InterContemporain, and now holds honorary positions with both organizations.
Pierre Boulez has fostered close relationships with the world’s major orchestras and opera companies.  His conducting highlights include the inaugural concert of the Cité de la musique in Paris; a four-orchestra festival of his compositions in Tokyo; tours with the London Symphony Orchestra celebrating his 70th, 75th, and 80th birthdays; and new productions of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Schoenberg’s Moses and Aron, and Wagner’s Parsifal.  More recently, Mr. Boulez has led Janáček’s From the House of the Dead in Aix-en-Provence, Amsterdam, and Vienna; served as composer-in-residence at Salzburg’s Mozartwoche; and conducted Mahler’s complete symphonies at Carnegie Hall.
            An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 1992, Pierre Boulez has focused his discography on 20th-century works.  His recordings have garnered Gramophone, Echo, and Deutscher Schallplatten awards and more than 25 Grammys.  Mr. Boulez also has received the Glenn Gould Prize and Wolf Prize, numerous honorary doctorates, and many other awards.

            French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is acclaimed as a key figure in both the music of our time and the standard piano repertoire.  He made his Cleveland Orchestra debut in February 1996.  Mr. Aimard appeared with the Orchestra at the Lucerne Festival in August 2008, in the world premiere of George Benjamin’s Duet for piano and orchestra, and in subsequent performances of the work at Severance Hall in September 2008 and at Carnegie Hall in February 2009.  He served as artist-in-residence with the Orchestra for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
          Born in Lyon, France, in 1957, Pierre-Laurent Aimard studied at the Paris Conservatory with Yvonne Loriod, and in London with Maria Curcio.  He received first prize in the 1973 Messiaen Competition and was appointed at age 19 by Pierre Boulez as the Ensemble Inter­Contemporain’s first solo pianist.  For nearly 20 years, Mr. Aimard collaborated with György Ligeti, and he has recorded Ligeti’s complete works.  Pierre-Laurent Aimard received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award in 2005 and 2006, and was named Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year in 2007. 
Mr. Aimard performs with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.  He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2001 and maintains a regular relationship there, as well as with the Berlin Philharmonic, Konzerthaus Vienna, Lucerne Festival, Mozarteum Salzburg, Philharmonie Cologne, and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.  His teaching activities include professorships in Paris and Cologne, as well as concert lectures and workshops worldwide.  Mr. Aimard served as inaugural artist-in-residence at the Salle de Concerts Grande-Duchesse Josephine-Charlotte in Luxembourg in 2005 to 2006, became an artistic partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in 2006, and in 2008 was artistic director of the Southbank Centre’s Messiaen centenary festival in London.  In 2009, he became artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival in England.    
           Pierre-Laurent Aimard has an extensive discography with Sony Classical and Teldec, and now records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon.  His first DG release, “Bach’s Art of the Fugue,” won the Diapason d’Or award and the prize for the Choc du Monde de la Musique.  Mr. Aimard also has received two ECHO Classic Awards:  in 2003 for his recording of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos, and in 2004 for Debussy’s Images and Etudes.  His recording of Ives’s “Concord” Sonata and Songs with Susan Graham garnered a 2005 Grammy Award.  Mr. Aimard’s recent releases include solo works by Carter, Messiaen, and Ravel, and the Mozart piano concertos, which he conducted from the keyboard.

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