Aimard plays colours
Watercolur on paper
Size: 14 x 21 cm
on the concert of 14 March, 2016 at the Angel Place concert
hall in Sydney:
Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a special sort of pianist, one
of those musicians who translate music with their whole
body, a phenomenon you sometimes see with string players
who stand to play but seldom with pianists, even the most
active and virtuosic. Aimard played Olivier Messiaen's
Vingt Regardes sur l'Enfant-Jésus (Twenty Contemplations
of the Christ Child). It
was an extraordinary concert that got a standing ovation,
not so common for solo pianists.
the pre-concert talk David Garrett spoke about Messiaen's
religiosity, his detailed knowledge of Roman Catholic
music and his use of this knowledge in the music he wrote
but I missed religious references completely.Instead I
heard very modernist piano music, mostly discordant, very
colourful, sometimes melodic and despite the title of
the piece, only occasionally what I would call contemplative.
I found it unexpected, riveting, mesmerising.
player undoubtedly had much to do with how his audience
received the music. Aimard had been a friend of Messiaen
and was a piano student of Messiaen's wife Yvonne Loriod,
herself a virtuoso pianist so he knows the world of Messiaen
better than most. The music seemed to take over Aimerd
physical presence as he played. In the quiet beginnings
of this two hour marathon it was only the mouth you noticed,
a clenching and un-clenching that made him look as if
he was chewing gum. As the concert progressed and the
twenty contemplations became raucous this involuntary
response enveloped more of Aimard's body. It was as if
electrical waves were being transmitted by the piano strings.
At times he rose off the stool, sitting a few inches above
it with twisted body looking like a contortionist trick.
At other times he seemed about to swallow the piano whole,
such was his concentration and determination. It was impossible
not to be swept away by his playing and the music.
music was played with brilliance but I still wondered
why I found it so very disarming. Was it the religious
significance Messiaen gave it that added something I couldn't
define? Later, reading the notes from the concert booklet
and discovering that the piece was written for Loriod
in a period when his love could not be acknowledged, I
suddently understood. His next major piece was inspired
by Tristan and Isolde.The pieces clicked into place!
about Pierre-Laurent Aimard