Long planned and prepared for, delayed and eventually facilitated by the Covid pandemic, Pierre-Laurent Aimard approaches Beethoven’s monumental Hammerklavier Sonata with a blend of respectful trepidation and rhetorical directness in a reading governed as much by the heart as it is guided by the head.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard
In the pianist’s brief booklet note he describes the sirenic but imposing Hammerklavier , thought by many among Beethoven’s peers to be unperformable, as being “as irresistible as it is insurmountable”. That sense of mesmeric enthrallment to the work’s craggy, granitic challenges informs a reading that calls to mind a Rabelaisian quest “in pursuit of the great perhaps”.

That it is coupled with the earlier set of miniature Eroica Variations reveals much about Aimard’s conception of detail and scale. Even though the choice makes one regret that he hasn’t, as he has in live concerts, paired it with Charles Ives’ Hammerklavier -indebted Concord...