Jeremy Denk Plays Beethoven and Cowell at Carnegie Hall, as His Album with Joshua Bell Tops Charts

02.06.12
Jeremy Denk
21C Media Group

From 21C Media Group

“Denk’s piano playing mingles urbanity with unabashed beauty.”– Washington Post

Jeremy Denk’s new French Impressions album with violinist Joshua Bell recently topped the Billboard classical chart, and on February 16 the pianist looks forward to performing one of his signature works, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under Sir Roger Norrington at Carnegie Hall. It was with Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto that Denk made his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut last March, stepping in at the eleventh hour to replace Martha Argerich. The Los Angeles Times found his performance “riveting,” while the Huffington Post reported that “the audience erupted in applause and wouldn’t let Denk go.” The pianist returns to New York’s 92nd Street Y on March 4 to help present “The Prodigy and the Ponytail: The Life and Music of Mozart,” before heading back to Carnegie Hall on March 30, for an “American Mavericks” program with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas. Also in the “American Mavericks” series, Denk is set to perform Henry Cowell’s rarely-heard Piano Concerto with these same forces in San Francisco and Ann Arbor, as well as on an upcoming release on the orchestra’s hit SFS Media label.
 
A witty, illuminating writer as well as a virtuosic and penetrating pianist, Denk keeps a blog – Think Denk – that has proved one of the most talked-about in the classical music world. New Yorker critic Alex Ross has even called Denk “one of the most interesting writers I know.” Now, Denk has his own piece in the New Yorker, with the February 6 issue featuring “Flight of the Concord,” a reflection on his experience of recording the “Concord” Sonata by Charles Ives. Denk writes:
 
“Every year, classical musicians record themselves for posterity. It’s a way to be visible, to escape the fleetingness of performance, and to reach people who will never hear you in concert. But it’s a perverse purchase: in exchange for a considerable financial investment – these days, few recordings are made purely on a record company’s dime – you receive many hours of narcissistic suffering.”
 
Along with a Think Denk entry that dubs his New Yorker piece an “obsessive, neurotic account of making a recording,” Denk’s recent blogging includes a lighter rumination on his life on tour with Bell.
 
Denk and Bell are fellow alums of Indiana University, and the two have played more than 80 recitals together over the past few years. Released by Sony Classical, their French Impressions album – featuring sonatas by Saint-Saëns, Franck, and Ravel – debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard classical chart in mid-January. Denk wrote the engaging liner notes for the album; they include an evocative summary of “what makes French music French: sounds that float, hover, harmony like a scent, a perfume evaporating into air.” About his partnership with Denk, Joshua Bell explains:
 
“I love rehearsing with him, arguing with him and thinking about what we are going to do. I will defend my ideas, and he will defend his. That’s how you get to the truth of the matter. So, it’s a good partnership, and every piece on the recording represents piano and violin equally.”
 
Reporting on Denk’s way with Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, the Detroit Free Press found his performance to be “the most viscerally exciting, emotionally absorbing, and intellectually rich account” that the reviewer had “ever heard in concert.” On February 16 at Carnegie Hall, Denk will appear with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Roger Norrington, the renowned scholar-conductor of Classical-era repertoire, on a program that also includes Haydn and Mozart.
 
Mozart will be the focus of Denk’s latest collaboration with Steven Isserlis for the British cellist’s Family Music series at the 92nd Street Y. Denk has previously collaborated with Isserlis on many of the Upper East Side venue’s family chamber concerts, each of which offers an introduction to the life and music of one of the great composers; in last December’s “Hardboiled Genius,” he served as guest artistic director to introduce the life and work of Stravinsky. On March 4, supported by violinists Daniel Phillips and Pamela Frank, and with narration by Judy Kuhn, Denk and Isserlis join forces to present “The Prodigy and the Ponytail: The Life and Music of Mozart.”
 
Denk joins the San Francisco Symphony and Tilson Thomas for the orchestra’s centennial season “American Mavericks” tour, performing Henry Cowell’s Piano Concerto in San Francisco (March 10 and 14, plus solo Cowell pieces on March 11) and in Ann Arbor, MI (March 22). Denk also features prominently in another “American Mavericks” program at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (March 30). His San Francisco performances of Cowell’s Piano Concerto will be recorded for release by the orchestra’s SFS Media label.
 
A list of Denk’s upcoming engagements follows, and much additional information is available at his web site: www.jeremydenk.net.
 
Jeremy Denk’s upcoming engagements
 
Feb 7
Philadelphia, PA
Perelman Theater – Kimmel Center
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
 
Feb 12
Beacon, NY
Howland Cultural Center
Recital
Mozart
 
Feb 16
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall
Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Sir Roger Norrington
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15
 
Feb 23
Scranton, PA
Mellow Theater
Community Concerts at Lackawanna College
 
Feb 25
Des Moines, IA
Sheslow Auditorium
Drake University
 
Feb 27
Fort Worth, TX
Bass Performance Hall
Van Cliburn Foundation
 
Feb 29
Schenectady, NY
Memorial Chapel – Union College
Union College Concerts
 
March 4
New York, NY
92nd Street Y
Family Program: “The Prodigy With The Ponytail: The Life and Music of Mozart”
 
March 10
San Francisco, CA
American Mavericks
Cowell: Piano Concerto
Chamber music with members of the San Francisco Symphony
 
March 11
San Francisco, CA
American Mavericks
Cowell: selections for solo piano
Chamber music with members of the San Francisco Symphony
 
March 14
San Francisco, CA
American Mavericks
Cowell: Piano Concerto
Chamber music with members of the San Francisco Symphony
 
March 22
Ann Arbor, MI
Hill Auditorium
American Mavericks
San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas
 
March 30
New York, NY
Zankel Hall
American Mavericks
Members of the San Francisco Symphony
 
April 19 and 21
St. Paul, MN
Music Room at SPCO Center
Kagel: Morceau de Concours for two trumpets
Ives: Largo for violin, clarinet, and piano
Ligeti: Selected Études
Ives: Piano Trio
 
April 20 and 22
St. Paul, MN
Music Room at SPCO Center
Elgar: Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84
 
May 8–14
European recital tour with Joshua Bell
   May 8: Madrid
   May 9: London
   May 10: Paris
   May 14: Berlin
 
May 19
Washington, DC
Washington Performing Arts Society
 
June 3
Chicago, IL
Chicago Symphony presents “The Collaborative Pianist”
 
June 21–23
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra / Michael Tilson Thomas
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat
 
July 18
College Park, MD
Gildenhorn Recital Hall
University of Maryland
Kapell Competition
 
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