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François-Xavier Roth conducts Webern, Bartók and Stravinsky featuring pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard

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In his second week of concerts, François-Xavier Roth works with outstanding French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Bartók's percussive, glittering Piano Concerto No. 1, in which the composer's love for Central European folk music merges imaginatively with early 20th-century modernism. Music by two close Bartók contemporaries fills out the program. Anton Webern's lush twelve-minute, single-movement Passacaglia from 1908 predates the crystalline miniatures for which he is best-known. Composed the following year is Stravinsky's The Firebird, the breathtakingly magical score for the Ballets Russes that catapulted the 27-year-old composer to fame and which, more than a century later, remains one of his most beloved pieces.

Featured Performers

François-Xavier Roth, conductor
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A restlessly intelligent maverick
Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Under Roth's needle-sharp direction these interpretations dazzle … with rhythmic verve, insouciant accentuation, energy, humour and elan. Virtuosity and verve shine from every bar.
Richard Morrison, The Times

François-Xavier Roth (born Paris, 1971) is one of today's most charismatic and enterprising conductors. Since 2015, he has been General Music Director of the City of Cologne, leading both the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera. In 2003, he founded Les Siècles, an innovative orchestra performing contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert.

With a reputation for inventive programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic and Staatskapelle, Royal Concertgebouw, Boston Symphony and Zurich Tonhalle. With the London Symphony he is curating a two-season series exploring the musical legacy of the post-Romantic period.

With Les Siècles, he has given concerts in France, Italy, Germany, England and Japan. They gave centenary performances of The Rite of Spring, on original instruments, at the BBC Proms and the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, and subsequent danced performances with the Pina Bausch and Dominique Brun companies. Their widely acclaimed recording of the work was awarded a German Record Critics' Prize in 2016. The first CD of their Ravel series with Harmonia Mundi will be released in April 2017.

His second Cologne opera season features a Ravel double bill of L'enfant et les sortilèges / L'heure espagnole, a revival and tour of Berlioz' Benvenuto Cellini and Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. With the Gürzenich Orchestra, he continues a focus on the composer Philippe Manoury, from whom the orchestra has commissioned a trilogy of works, and led a successful tour of Asia in February 2017.

As Principal Conductor (2011-16), he led the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden in visits to London (BBC Proms), Hamburg and the Lucerne and Berlin Festivals. They performed and recorded a cycle of the symphonic poems of Richard Strauss, premiered works by Yann Robin, Georg-Friedrich Haas and Simon Steen-Anderson and collaborated with composers Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Helmut Lachenmann.

Engagement with new audiences and new music are an essential part of François-Xavier Roth's work. He is conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme and, with the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, he founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, an orchestra- academy with its own collection of period instruments. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, their own television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million. The Gürzenich Orchestra's Ohrenauf! youth programme recently received a Junge Ohren Produktion Award.

www.francoisxavierroth.fr

François-Xavier Roth, conductor Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
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Widely acclaimed as a key figure in the music of our time and as a uniquely significant interpreter of piano repertoire from every age, Pierre-Laurent Aimard enjoys an internationally celebrated career.

He performs throughout the world each season with major orchestras under conductors including Christoph von Dohnányi Gustavo Dudamel, Peter Eötvös, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Simon Rattle and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He has been invited to create, direct and perform in a number of residencies, with recent projects including at Carnegie Hall, New York's Lincoln Center, Vienna's Konzerthaus, Berlin's Philharmonie, the Lucerne Festival, Mozarteum Salzburg, Edinburgh Festival, Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Tanglewood Festival and London's Southbank Centre - where he was Artistic Advisor to the 'Exquisite Labyrinth' festival celebrating the music of Pierre Boulez. Aimard is also the Artistic Director of the prestigious and historic Aldeburgh Festival. Commenting on his directorship, the Guardian wrote: "Aimard has ensured that the provincialism Britten himself dreaded has no place here…it reassures music-lovers in search of seriousness and quality."

Current and future highlights include solo recitals in London, New York, Chicago, Paris Tokyo, Vienna, Beijing and Amsterdam and concerto appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic and  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin,.  He also regularly directs concerts from the keyboard with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. In Autumn 2014 he will join the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich to give the world premiere of a Piano Concerto by Harrison Birtwistle, with further performances in Porto, London and Boston and in Spring 2015 he will undertake a recital tour with Tamara Stefanovich, playing all of Boulez's completed works for piano in celebration of the composer's 90th birthday.

Born in Lyon in 1957, Pierre-Laurent Aimard studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Yvonne Loriod and in London with Maria Curcio. Early career landmarks included winning first prize in the 1973 Messiaen Competition at the age of 16 and being appointed three years later, by Pierre Boulez, to become the Ensemble intercontemporain's first solo pianist.

Aimard has had close collaborations with many leading composers including Kurtag, Stockhausen, Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez and George Benjamin and had a long association with György Ligeti, recording his complete works for piano.  Most recently he performed the world premiere of Tristan Murail's Piano Concerto as well as Carter's last piece: Epigrams for piano, cello and violin, which was written for Pierre-Laurent and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013. Through professorships at the Hochschule Köln and Conservatoire de Paris, as well as numerous series of concert lectures and workshops worldwide, he sheds an inspiring and very personal light on music of all periods. During 2009 Aimard was invited to give a series of classes and seminars at the College de France, Paris. He was the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society's Instrumentalist Award in spring 2005 and was named "Instrumentalist of the Year" by Musical America in 2007.

Pierre-Laurent now records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon. His first DG release, Bach's Art of Fugue, received both the Diapason d'Or and Choc du Monde de la Musique awards, debuted at No.1 on Billboard's classical chart and topped iTunes' classical album download chart. In recent years Pierre-Laurent has been honoured with ECHO Classik Awards, most recently in 2009 for his recording of solo piano pieces, 'Hommage à Messiaen' and was also presented with Germany's Schallplattenkritik Honorary Prize the same year. His recording of Ives' Concord Sonata and Songs received a Grammy award in 2005.  His highly successful 2011 release, 'The Liszt Project' featuring the music of Liszt alongside Berg, Bartok, Ravel, Scriabin and Messiaen, was followed by a recording of Debussy's Préludes in 2012, the composer's anniversary year.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Program Notes Audio
WEBERN - Passacaglia, Op. 1 (12 min)
BARTÓK - Piano Concerto No. 1 (24 min)
STRAVINSKY - The Firebird (Complete) (45 min)
Concert Preview - Full Program Notes
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