Hear Jeremy Denk's "Ligeti/Beethoven" in Full As NPR First Listen: Denk Displays "Staggeringly Good Chops, Plays Masterfully"
Ligeti/Beethoven, the Nonesuch label debut from acclaimed pianist Jeremy Denk, is due out next week, on May 15. But you don’t need to wait till then to hear it. The album, which features Ligeti’s Piano Études, Books One and Two, and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, is streaming in full all this week as an NPR First Listen. "By this point, it's probably no secret that Jeremy Denk is a favorite around these parts, both as a brilliant pianist and as a gifted and funny essayist," writes NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas. "So our hearts collectively leaped at the news" of Denk's Nonesuch debut.
In his liner notes to the album, Denk explains of pairing the Ligeti and the Beethoven that "the most significant connection for me is between Beethoven’s vast timeless canvas and Ligeti’s bite-sized bits of infinity."
It's a connection Tsioulcas notes as well. "Denk moves swiftly between musical universes by nestling the Beethoven between Ligeti selections, and the effect is provocative, even unsettling. And yet, in the Denkian universe in which this album lives, it makes perfect sense," she writes. "In the Piano Sonata No. 32 ... Beethoven is enraptured by infinity, too, though in an entirely different fashion than Ligeti. Rather than coiling up in more and more twists, as Ligeti does, Beethoven carries his conception of the ineffable aloft in sublime ecstasies of sound before letting the piece drift off into silence."
Tsioulcas concludes: "In order to pull all this off, the artist must have staggeringly good chops—which Denk does, in spades. Throughout Ligeti/Beethoven, Denk plays masterfully, opening up each puzzle box in turn with vitality, wit and absolute assurance. He cares deeply and passionately about these pieces, however impenetrable they may seem at first listen—and, through him, so do we."
Read more and listen to the album in its entirety now at npr.org.
To mark the release of Ligeti/Beethoven, Jeremy Denk will make his first appearance at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City for a one-night-only celebration on Monday, May 21. The concert program comprises Book 1 of Ligeti’s Piano Études and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111. For additional information on this and other upcoming performances by Denk, 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.