Ligeti/Beethoven: Piano Études; Sonata No 32 – review

Jeremy Denk
The Guardian

By Fiona Maddocks

Jeremy Denk


In his label debut recital, the American pianist Jeremy Denk – a regular duo partner of violinist Joshua Bell – displays his talent for finding connections between apparent opposites. The result is dazzling. Here Ligeti's Piano Études, Books One and Two, short and glittering pieces of immense pianistic variety, are separated by Beethoven's Sonata No 32 in C Minor Op 111, characterised by what Denk calls "anachronistic boogie-woogie". The Ligeti is crisp, nuanced and technically flawless, the Beethoven beautifully shaped and flexible. As Denk writes in the CD notes, he is fascinated by "Beethoven's vast timeless canvas and Ligeti's bite-sized bits of infinity". That fascination is illuminated in every bar he plays.