Alain Planès

French pianist (born in 1948, Lyon)

A distinguished pianist who performed as a soloist, chamber pianist and accompanist, Alain Planès has been enjoying a brilliant and discrete career. Always very selective in the choice of his programmes and instruments, through his aesthetic and music research, he developed a close bond with the personality of the composers he covered.

Alain Planès studied music in his hometown. In 1960, he was awarded first prize at the Lyon Conservatory. He later enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, first studying piano in Jean Doyen’s class, then chamber music under Jacques Février. He subsequently was awarded the first prize in piano and chamber music, but he did not feel fully satisfied by the education he received in France. For this reason, in 1970, he decided to travel to the United States to work with Menahem Pressler – who at the time was the pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio - at the Indiana University Bloomington. There, he also developped his accompanist skills by playing with Franco Gulli, János Starker and William Primrose. He was invited by Rudolf Serkin to the Marlboro festival and then first performed on stage in collaboration with cellist János Starker, both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Once back in France in 1977, Planès became a solo pianist with Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble Intercontemporain. Together, they performed at the Donaueschingen and La Rochelle festivals. In 1981, he left the Ensemble Intercontemporain and performed in Europe, in the United States and in Japan, under the direction of conductors such as Sylvain Cambreling, Kent Nagano, Emmanuel Krivine. He was also a renowned chamber musician and played with Shlomo Mintz, Salvatore Accardo, the Talich Quartet. He accompanied singers Robert Tear and José Van Dam. Between 2000 and 2006, he recorded the complete works for piano by Debussy under label Harmonia Mundi. In 2009, he decided to record the programme of a rare concert that Chopin performed on the 21st of February, 1842, on a Pleyel piano dated from 1836, and tried to recreate this concert as closely as possible.

Six landmark dates in the life of Alain Planès 

  • 1970 Travelled to the U.S. to study with Menahem Pressler
  • 1977 Solo pianist for the Ensemble Intercontemporain
  • 1988 Was awarded by The Victoires de la musique classique for his Debussy's Préludes 
  • 2002 Released Haydn’s sonatas under Harmonia Mundi
  • 2006 Recorded the complete works for piano by Debussy
  • 2009 Recorded the programme of a concert given by Chopin on a Pleyel piano from 1836

Biography from Radio France’s document database, September 2014