Jeremy Denk Celebrates His Nonesuch Debut, "Ligeti/Beethoven," with (Le) Poisson Rouge Performance, May 21
To mark the May 15 release of his Nonesuch label debut, pianist Jeremy Denk will make his first appearance at (Le) Poisson Rouge, taking over New York City’s musical hotspot for a one-night-only Ligeti/Beethoven celebration on Monday, May 21, 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).
Critics have praised Denk’s ability to creatively tackle a diverse array of repertoire. "Jeremy Denk’s recitals float so easily above the piano that one can’t imagine him doing scales and exercises," writes Harry Rolnick of ConcertoNet. "His fingers delight as much in the impossible intricacies of a Ligeti étude, as they swirl around a Bach toccata. His power for a Beethoven sonata is daunting–not for its physical command as its emotional grasp. And his trademark sonatas of Charles Ives offer a more dramatic view of the composer than any older pianist."
Denk’s Poisson Rouge event will further illustrate the connections he has made on this recording. In his Ligeti/Beethoven liner notes, Denk discusses some of his thoughts on the composers’ similarities: how Ligeti’s Études are seemingly a sequel to late Beethoven, how there is a thematic connection “between Beethoven’s vast timeless canvas and Ligeti’s bite-size bits of infinity,” and “the way both the Ligeti and Beethoven works are about separations between dueling, different visions of time.”
Denk also writes about another link:
A … crucial connection is the relation to syncopation, to rhythmic mayhem, to jazz (in Beethoven’s case proleptically!). Beethoven’s boogie-woogie is disturbing to some, bewildering to others, but he gets there by logical steps; the ecstatic syncopations are an outgrowth of forces latent in the theme. And this sense of ecstasy, derived from weird energies hidden in basic ideas, is just as central to the discombobulations of Ligeti. Passages of abandonment are everywhere in the Études … All these draw out, in a sense, rhythmic joys of jazz: ecstatic play, the play of freedom against order.
Following a number of European tour dates with Joshua Bell starting next week, Denk returns to the States to give a solo recital in Washington, DC, on May 19, and, following the album release show in New York, presents “The Collaborative Pianist” in Chicago on June 3. Presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the wide-ranging program features Denk paired with tenor Nicholas Phan in Schumann’s song cycle Dichterliebe, Op. 48, and the Joffrey Ballet dancing George Balanchine’s choreography for Stravinsky’s Duo Concertante—with violinist Stefan Jackiw—as well a performance of Dvořák’s Piano Trio in F minor with cellist Katinka Kleijn. Denk returns to the San Francisco Symphony for a second time this season for Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, led by Michael Tilson Thomas, June 21–23; he performed with members of the orchestra in New York at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall in late March as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s “American Mavericks” US tour.
For additional tour information, go to nonesuch.com/on-tour. To pre-order Ligeti/Beethoven, head to the Nonesuch Store, where orders include high-quality, 320 kbps MP3s of the album available to download on release day.