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Jeremy Denk’s “Mesmerizing” Take on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” Will Be Released – with Accompanying Video “Liner Notes” – by Nonesuch on Sep 30

08.26.13
Jeremy Denk
21C Media Group

Jeremy Denk’s recording of J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” will be issued by Nonesuch Records on September 30. A companion DVD offers video “liner notes” in which the pianist explicates features of Bach’s masterpiece from the keyboard (see an excerpt here). The “Goldbergs” have long been a staple of Denk’s repertoire; the New York Times notes his “profound affinity with Bach,” while the Philadelphia Inquirer calls his interpretation “mesmerizing.” Available directly from Nonesuch, the new CD/DVD-set marks the pianist’s second recording for the label; his first, Ligeti/Beethoven, was named one of the best recordings of 2012 by the New Yorker, Washington Post, NPR Music, and other media outlets.

Audiences at three of the nation’s foremost recital venues will have the opportunity to hear Denk render Bach’s iconic work in live performance, when he plays the “Goldbergs” at Boston’s Gardner Museum (Sep 15) and Washington’s Kennedy Center (Oct 12) – both of which events have already sold out – and Chicago’s Symphony Center (Oct 13).

In a tongue-in-cheek blogpost on NPR’s Deceptive Cadence last year, Denk explained: “The best reason to hate the ‘Goldberg Variations’ – aside from the obvious reason that everyone asks you all the time which of the two [Glenn Gould] recordings you prefer – is that everybody loves them.’ He continued, “Yes, I’m suspicious of the ‘Goldbergs’’ popularity. Classical music is not really supposed to be that popular. I worried for years that I would be seduced into playing them, and would become like all the others – besotted, cultish – and that is exactly what happened. I have been assimilated into the Goldberg Borg.”

Other highlights of Denk’s new season include orchestral collaborations that take him to three continents, in performances of concertos by Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Ravel, Ligeti, and Mozart – whose Concerto No. 25 is the vehicle for appearances with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Crowning a full season of recitals, orchestral concerts, and masterclasses, Denk will serve as Music Director of the 68th annual Ojai Music Festival, for which, besides performing and curating, he is composing the libretto for a semi-satirical opera by Steven Stucky.

  The pianist’s 2012-13 season included a 13-city U.S. tour; a performance of Bach’s complete set of six keyboard concertos in a single evening with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and a six-city tour – marking his Australian debut – with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Just days after his main-stage solo recital at Carnegie Hall, the New Yorker published a personal history by Denk that will form the basis of his forthcoming memoir, due for publication by Random House in the 2015-16 season.

The new CD/DVD-set is already available for pre-order from Nonesuch, and further details are available on the artist’s web site: jeremydenk.net.