This weekend Pierre-Laurent Aimard finishes his tenure as artistic partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He'll go out with a bang, performing and conducting two Beethoven piano concertos, his first and second.
This was always part of the plan for Mr. Aimard, to explore the full cycle of Beethoven concertos with an orchestra known for its ability and eagerness to work intimately with a musician and to share in the musical decisions and direction, rather than taking direction solely from a conductor.
In the music of our time, Aimard is an interesting figure. A proponent of new music, he is a a contemporary music specialist, and yet at the same time, he is someone whose career transcends any comfortable and easy boundaries. He is highly acclaimed for his performances of the standard repertoire, as well.
This may be why SPCO concert-goers have heard pretty interesting concerts over the past three years while Aimard has been on the podium or conducting from the keyboard. Everything from Stockhausen to Carter to Messiaen juxtaposed with a Haydn symphony or a Mozart piano concerto.
What one sees is that Pierre-Laurent Aimard is comfortable in all styles of music, as well as sheer joy in being right in the center of the music-making, even if trying to conduct from the piano-bench might prove to be a little awkward.