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Jeremy Denk at Mostly Mozart and the Hollywood Bowl

Pianist Jeremy Denk looks forward to a high-profile summer across the U.S., performing works by Beethoven and John Adams at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival (Aug 12-13) before playing more Beethoven for his debut performance at the Hollywood Bowl (Aug 18).  He also plays a typically wide range of repertoire at top chamber music festivals, from Brahms and Ives in Seattle (July 15-17) to Brahms, Fauré, and Weinberg in Santa Fe (Aug 3-7).
For Mostly Mozart, Denk performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in an all-Beethoven program with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra under Louis Langrée.  Before each of the concerts, which take place in Avery Fisher Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center on August 12 and 13, audiences will have the chance to hear Denk in a 7pm pre-concert recital playing John Adams’s Phrygian Gates – the pulsing, 22-minute solo piece that was one of the composer’s first breakthroughs.  Adams has said that the work “requires a pianist capable of considerable physical endurance and with an ability to sustain long arches of sound.”  Such intensity and commitment are hallmarks of Denk’s performances, the New York Times noting that his recital in last summer’s Mostly Mozart Festival had “an explosive ferocity and a fragile delicacy that were thrilling to witness.”
At the Hollywood Bowl on August 18, Denk performs the solo piano part in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy (in a program that includes the related Symphony No. 9, “Choral”).  The pianist’s partners for the event are the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.  It was with Beethoven that Denk made his L.A. Philharmonic debut this spring, stepping in at the eleventh hour to replace Martha Argerich with conductor Gustavo Dudamel.  The Los Angeles Times reported: “Denk unravels mysteries.  He commands an impressive clarity of tone and thought.  He brings out delicious details.  In many passages, his fingers catch the sparkle in his eye.”
Denk has made a name for himself as a writer, too.  His blog, Think Denk, has earned plaudits among the cognoscenti, with Alex Ross of the New Yorker calling the pianist “one of the most interesting writers I know.”  Taking time out to defend classical music against the charge that it’s generally humorless, the latest post at Think Denk sees the pianist-writer make the case – complete with musical examples – for “how incredibly central humor is to Beethoven,” taking as one example the composer’s Piano Sonata Op. 31, No. 1 and the way it is “the work of a jokester, first and foremost… .  Beethoven, like a child, just cannot get enough of his joke, he’s obsessed with it; in fact, the gag utterly depends on its insistence – i.e., it’s not just that the right and left hands can’t quite play together, but that they keep not being able to play together until, at last, after perverse amounts of anticipation, they decide to rush up and down the keyboard in an addled, maniacal unison.  (How’s that for together?!?)  Left and right hands are cast as characters in a slapstick routine.  By the second theme, Beethoven has left funny in the dust, he’s speeding on past silly…”
Jeremy Denk’s summer engagements
July 15
Seattle, WA
Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall
Seattle Chamber Music Festival
Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 2 in A, Op. 26
July 17
Seattle, WA
Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall
Seattle Chamber Music Festival
Ives: Sonata No. 1
Ives: Largo (violin, clarinet & piano)
Brahms: Trio in A minor, Op. 114
July 26
Aspen, CO
Aspen Music Festival
August 3, 4, & 7
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Piano Trio, Op. 24
Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 2 in E-flat, Op. 120, No. 2
Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15
August 12 & 13
New York, NY
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
Mostly Mozart Festival
7pm: Pre-concert recital
8pm: All-Beethoven program also featuring Christine Brewer
Piano Concerto No. 2
August 18
Los Angeles, CA
Hollywood Bowl
Beethoven: Choral Fantasy

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