Pierre-Laurent Aimard is about to embark on a personal artistic journey. The French pianist will spend much of the next year in company with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, digging deep beneath the surface of one of the composer's greatest works. Aimard's Bach odyssey will span four continents, reaching audiences in fifteen countries with thirty-four performances featuring the first book of The Well-tempered Clavier. This ambitious project stands as a major landmark in the development of an artist acclaimed worldwide for the imaginative eloquence and poetic insight of his music-making. Aimard's latest Deutsche Grammophon album, scheduled for release on August 19, 2014, presents his mature thoughts on The Well-tempered Clavier Book I, embracing everything from the sublime stillness of its opening Prelude in C major to the labyrinthine twists of the final Fugue in B minor.
It has been said that Bach perfected nature in The Well-tempered Clavier. The work's first book presents twelve pairs of preludes and fugues in each of the twelve major and minor keys. Its contents amount to a creative dialogue between tradition and modernity: Bach here shows his genius for invention and reinvention in the ancient form of the fugue, based on clear themes that are repeated and varied according to more or less fixed rules, and in his diverse preludes. Aimard's approach, which reflects the humanity of Bach's art, flows from a detailed knowledge of the individual movements of The Well-tempered Clavier Book I and of how they combine to create an infinite musical cosmos.
This release is Pierre-Laurent Aimard's second recording of Bach. In 2008 his Deutsche Grammophon release of The Art of Fugue was a phenomenal critical and commercial success. "The day it was released," commented the Los Angeles Times, "Pierre-Laurent Aimard's recording of Bach's The Art of Fugue was the top-selling classical recording on iTunes. A week later, it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's classical chart. The CD – sublime performances of fathomless fugues from Bach's last days on Earth – is exactly where it belongs."
Gramophone wrote, "Once again Pierre-Laurent Aimard demonstrates that he is not only one of the most technically gifted pianists around today, he is also one of the most intelligent. Musical intellect shines through every bar in this account of The Art of Fugue, as Aimard eschews any sense of wallowing for a speedy, alert traversal of the score. It sounds so natural that it is something of a surprise at the end to realize how affecting it all is … This is Bach-playing to listen to every day, fresh, spry and well-modulated … Perhaps no pianist since Charles Rosen has so persuasively demonstrated that this contrapuntal encyclopedia is to be heard as well as read."