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Jeremy Denk Releases ‘Mozart Piano Concertos,’ on Nonesuch Records

Jeremy Denk Releases ‘Mozart Piano Concertos,’ Recorded with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, September 17 on Nonesuch Records

Jeremy Denk’s Mozart Piano Concertos will be released September 17, 2021, on Nonesuch Records. Denk is joined by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for two Mozart concertos—No. 25 in C Major, K. 503 and No. 20 in D minor, K. 466—bookending the composer’s solo Rondo in A minor, K. 511. The second movement from K. 466, the Romance, is available here, where the album also may be preordered.

Denk says of K. 503 in his liner note: “As I write these words … the world as it used to be has vanished, a pandemic world has settled in, and—as we keep telling ourselves—we have to live with uncertainty. Which has always seemed to me one of the key messages of this great concerto, so different from the rest, and so full of the love of its creator.

“503 has very few tunes,” he continues. “This may explain why it is not one of the most popular of his concertos … You feel that Mozart is instructing you to listen more deeply, away from ornament, behind the frills, to realize that music is more than an assembly of charming and diverting tunes, to think about ideas beneath the surface, forces and principles.

“The D minor Concerto is a far more famous and popular piece than 503, partly because it is what it promises to be. If 503 proposes grand, certain chords and then undermines them, 466 takes the opposite approach: it starts from a distilled unease which accumulates into chords and statements, outbursts of anger. A purer tragedy—and a clearer narrative,” he says.

Denk says of Mozart’s Rondo in A minor, K. 511, “Mozart wrote so many sad songs in his short life: laments of ardent young tenors, of innocent maids, of jilted Countesses, sorrows across the human spectrum, across class and age and mindset, giving voice to regrets vast and small. But in this case I’d argue he does something different—a piece about the nature of melancholy, a sadness (if you like) about sadness.”

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Preview the album

BBC Radio 3 In Tune (starts at 1:28:50)

“Even before Jeremy Denk plays a single note in this twin Mozart piano concerto release, he makes his presence forcefully felt. As both soloist and director with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, he elicits a bracing immediacy in the anticipatory orchestral exposition of the vivacious Piano Concerto No 25, K503 and never lets up. Denk himself strikes a compelling Mozartian balance between lyrical perfection and effervescent spirit, and this poetic incision is not only echoed by the crisply articulate orchestra – the interplay with Denk is always on equal terms: no easy-option superficiality on either count; every note, every nuance matters.”
The Scotsman * * * * *