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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.”

Read more from Nonesuch Records

Preview the album

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

Jeremy Denk on Mozart’s Piano Concertos in The Guardian:
Diversity, dialogue – and a prankster bassoon: how Mozart speaks for us all
The piano concertos, like his operas, are where you get to meet Mozart himself. And what you find is a man who sought to disrupt privilege and let us see the world through the eyes of others

“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 * * * * *

“Denk approaches everything with questing intelligence and energy. In both concertos his ornaments and cadenzas are full of wit and imagination, his ear for detail incisive and bracing. The excellent Saint Paul players match his variety and range of expression. As ever, his probing liner notes shed light, making an already engrossing album more than worth the purchase.”
The Guardian

“The first thing you notice at the outset is the exquisite shaping of the orchestral introduction. The rapport with Denk’s accomplices in the St Paul Chamber Orchestra is accordingly a close one, and their sterling support frees Denk to embellish his lines with sometimes startling freedom. Denk’s identification with this music is evident throughout. Perhaps the palate-cleansing A minor Rondo best encapsulates the finest points of these performances: a reading of conspicuous inwardness and intensity that distils an almost Schubertian poignancy. His cadenzas, too, reflect his deeply personal response to each work. Denk is clearly a pianist with much to say in Mozart.”

“What could possibly be newsworthy about a couple of Mozart piano concertos, you might ask? Well, in this new live recording, the pianist in question is Jeremy Denk, who grabs us by both hands and thrusts us into the essential human drama of these pieces. With Denk’s Mozart nothing is routine. [He] is a musician who understands that as well as charting the sweep of the whole, it’s the little words that often matter the most… An urgent and essential reading of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D Minor K466. It’s a really probing, provocative interpretation that pulls the rug from under any firm footing, any notion that the concerto might be overly familiar, and it’s for that courage to be uncomfortable that it is my Record of the Week.”
BBC Radio 3 ‘Record of the Week’