Jeremy Denk to Celebrate Album Release at Poisson Rouge: "Splendid Pianist" (NY Mag), "Irresistible" Program (New Yorker)
To mark the release of his Nonesuch label debut, pianist Jeremy Denk makes his first appearance at (Le) Poisson Rouge, taking over New York City’s musical hotspot for a one-night-only Ligeti/Beethoven celebration tonight at 7:30 PM. The concert program comprises Book 1 of Ligeti’s Piano Études and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111. (The new album adds selections from Ligeti’s Piano Études, Book 2). Tonight's concert is a Critics' Pick in Time Out New York and in New York magazine, which calls him "splendid." The New Yorker calls the Ligeti/Beethoven program "irresistible." New York NPR member station WNYC has selected the concert for today's Gig Alert citing "his vibrant playing" and the "eclectic, audacious repertoire," as heard on the new album.
On Saturday, Denk gave what the Washington Post's classical music critic Anne Midgette describes as a "charming, easy performance" at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington, DC. The program offered a preview of tonight's concert, including both the Beethoven and Book 1 of Ligeti's Études.
"Denk has a way of explicating complicated music by playing it so that it seems self-evident and absolutely graspable—a considerable gift," writes Midgette in her concert review. "In his hands, these etudes became lovely pieces, intensity alternating with languid grace (like the fifths of the second etude, gently swaying like underwater plants)."
Jeremy Denk, a noted writer, both on his blog, Think Denk, and in such publications as The New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review, has written an essay for Newsweek magazine. In the essay, also published on The Daily Beast, Denk reflects on the challenges of having pursued a double degree in chemistry and piano at Oberlin and how liberating it was, ultimately, to dedicate himself to a career in music rather than science.
"In music, of course, you can play wrong notes, make bad phrasing decisions, but sometimes the wrongest note played with conviction is better than the right one, and there are an infinite number of right answers, some way off in the distance," Denk concludes. "I knew I wouldn’t cure cancer or anything, but I might discover some beautiful way of playing something that no one else had found."
Read the essay at thedailybeast.com.
You can read Denk's complete Ligeti/Beethoven liner note in the Nonesuch Journal here. To pick up a copy of Ligeti/Beethoven, head to the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include instant downloads of the complete album at checkout; MP3s and FLAC lossless files are also available to purchase there.