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Jeremy Denk performs with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

The year is already proving to be a busy one for pianist Jeremy Denk, who has just released a new recording – an album of Bach partitas – and given, among other high-profile engagements, a solo recital at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, where he ingeniously paired Bach’s iconic Goldberg Variations with a modern classic, Ligeti’s Études.  In guest appearances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (March 14 and 15), Denk will once again showcase his versatility as well as his gift for collaborative give-and-take, performing works for solo, duet, and quintet by Dvorák and Smetana.
On March 14 at Drew University in Madison, NJ, and on March 15 at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Denk will play selections from Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances as piano duets, the form in which they were originally written, with Wu Han, co-artistic director of the Chamber Music Society.  He will join a quartet of CMS string players for Dvorák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A, and will go solo in two Smetana piano pieces.
About the program, Denk says: “The Dvorák Slavonic Dances have always been special to me, in the same way that certain Schubert pieces for four-hands are.  … I was delighted when Wu Han asked if I would like to play some of them with her.”
The pianist continues:
“Of course, a thread of Eastern European folk music runs through the program.  There’s something special about the color of these extremely folk-suffused pieces: Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances, his Piano Quintet, and the little Smetana piano pieces, a polka and the Furiant.  They pass through all the extremes of emotion, from melancholy to joy; in fact, they make a point of constantly, almost schizophrenically, changing from major to minor, this kaleidoscopic emotion.  In the folk style, you get the feeling that major and minor are just two sides of the same coin, that happiness and sadness are both a reflection of an underlying life force, a zest for life.  Plus, most everything is danceable, the kind of dancing you tend to do after an excellent drink.”
About Denk’s adventurous attitude to repertoire and his insights into the music that he plays, the New York Times pointed out: “Mr. Denk, clearly, is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs, in whatever combination – both for his penetrating intellectual engagement with the music and for the generosity of his playing.”
Denk’s new Bach Partitas recording
Denk’s new album of Bach, released in January by the boutique Azica label, presents three of the composer’s six keyboard Partitas: Nos. 3 in A minor, 4 in D, and 6 in E minor.  For many of today’s pianists, Bach’s Partitas are the most compelling of all the composer’s many suites, being technically demanding and ambitious in scale.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Denk explained his belief that Bach’s music is often interpreted with too much melancholy or idiosyncrasy: “Bach for me is a lot more humane – a smiling, generous composer.  He wrote music to be performed not by hermetic weird geniuses, but every day in the coffee house.  It breathes.  And the music is shared – it irradiates this tremendous warmth!”
Jeremy Denk Plays Ives, the album the pianist released in October 2010 on his own Think Denk Media label, earned a spot on the year-end top-ten lists of many of the country’s foremost music critics.  Choosing Denk’s Ives disc as one of his favorites of the year, Boston Globe critic Jeremy Eichler singled out the way “Denk conveys both the teeming surface details and the quiet inner beauty within this dense, craggy, majestically sprawling music.”  The recording features Ives’s Piano Sonata No. 2 “Concord,” as well as his less familiar Sonata No. 1.
Jeremy Denk’s spring 2011 engagements
March 14
Madison, NJ
Drew University
Dvorák: Selected Slavonic Dances (with Wu Han, piano)
Dvorák: String Sextet in A
Smetana: Selected piano works
Dvorák: Piano Quintet No. 2 in A
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
March 15
New York, NY
Alice Tully Hall
Dvorák: Selected Slavonic Dances (with Wu Han, piano)
Dvorák: String Sextet in A
Smetana: Selected piano works
Dvorák: Piano Quintet No. 2 in A
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
March 25 & 26
Annapolis, MD
Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts
Annapolis Symphony Orchestra
Mozart: Concerto for Piano No. 21 in C, K. 467
March 29
Houston, TX
Menil Collection
Da Camera of Houston
Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-60”
April 1 & 2
Indianapolis, IN
Hilbert Circle Theater
Indiana Symphony Society / Mark Wigglesworth
Mozart: Concerto for Piano No. 21 in C, K. 467
April 9 & April 10
Columbus, OH
Southern Theater
ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus / Timothy Russell
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1
April 16
Sleepy Hollow, NY
Sleepy Hollow High School
Friends of Music Concerts
Bach: Toccata in D; Toccata in G-sharp minor
Liszt: Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata
Ligeti: Études, Book 1
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111
April 17
Coral Gables, FL
Maurice Gusman Hall
Sunday Afternoons of Music
Solo recital
Repertoire: TBD
April 21
Madison, WI
University of Wisconsin at Madison
Wisconsin Union Theater
Repertoire: TBD
April 29
Kalamazoo, MI
Wellspring Theater
Fontana Chamber Arts
Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1
May 13-15
Detroit, MI
Orchestra Hall
Detroit Symphony Orchestra / Peter Oundjian
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.467

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