. Interchanging Idioms: Jeremy Denk Plays Prokofiev and Grieg on Six-State US Tour with Moscow State Symphony and Pavel Kogan

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jeremy Denk Plays Prokofiev and Grieg on Six-State US Tour with Moscow State Symphony and Pavel Kogan

Jeremy Denk kicked off the new season with the release of his long-anticipated first solo album, Jeremy Denk plays Ives, and successful concerts at both Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls. Next he embarks on a six-city US tour with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, one of Russia’s most esteemed ensembles, under its music director and chief conductor Pavel Kogan, winner of the National Prize of the Russian Federation (and son of violinist Leonid). Appearing in La Crosse, WI (Nov 5), Naperville, IL (Nov 6), Notre Dame, IN (Nov 7), Morgantown, WV (Nov 10), Louisville, KY (Nov 13), and West Palm Beach, FL (Nov 17), Denk performs Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto, one of the most technically formidable examples of the genre, and Grieg’s Piano Concerto, to which, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, he recently “brought the right dose of suaveness…while keeping a keen emphasis on clarity and rhythmic exactitude and not trying to oversell it” (Denver Post).

Denk’s most recent orchestral engagement was also with the Philadelphia Orchestra, when he played Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with Charles Dutoit at Carnegie Hall (Oct 12), showcasing his trademark combination of pianistic chops and intelligent musicianship:

“Mr. Dutoit set the tone with an opening passage that leaned on Liszt’s dramatic dissonances and demanded an assertive pianistic response. Mr. Denk supplied that, along with a sparkling, powerhouse sound. But, typically for Mr. Denk, his reading never threatened to be matter over mind. Every phrase was fluid, shapely, and thoughtfully etched. He made Liszt seem, at least in passing, as if he were as deep and revolutionary a thinker as Beethoven.” — Allan Kozinn, New York Times

A week later, it was Denk’s talent as a chamber musician that New Yorkers could enjoy, at the first of two “Folk Traditions Concerts” with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall. Inspired by his passion for the music of Central Europe, Denk was behind the planning and programming, as well as performing in Dohnányi’s Piano Sextet and Dvorák’s Piano Quartet in D. The New York Times’s Vivien Schweitzer praised Denk’s “thoughtful music-making” and “finely crafted phrasing,” noting that “throughout the evening the standard of playing was impressive.” The second concert is scheduled for March 15.

After the iTunes launch of Denk’s first solo recording, Gathering Note observed, “There isn’t a pianist today who understands [Charles] Ives’s music like Denk.” His recital programs have long featured not only the great American iconoclast’s famous and monumental “Concord” Sonata but also the far less familiar Sonata No. 1, impressing critics with “thrilling performances” (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times) that offer “an entire world” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post). Now his celebrated Ives interpretations have finally been committed to disc; on October 12, Jeremy Denk plays Ives was issued on CD by the pianist’s own Think Denk Media label. The new album has also inspired much media interest, with features appearing in both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; the latter offered a survey of reviewers’ attempts to describe Denk’s artistry, singling out “‘intelligence,’ ‘lyricism,’ ‘attention to detail,’ ‘chops,’ and ‘breadth of color’ [as] just some of the words they have used.”

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