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Jeremy Denk’s Le Poisson Rouge CD celebration, May 21

To mark the May 15 release of his Nonesuch label debut, pianist Jeremy Denk will make his first appearance at Le Poisson Rouge, taking over New York City’s musical hotspot for a one-night-only Ligeti/Beethoven celebration on Monday, May 21 at 7:30 pm. The concert program comprises Book 1 of Ligeti’s Piano Études and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111. (His new CD adds selections from Ligeti’s Piano Études, Book 2). Denk blends repertoire from some of his most recent critically-acclaimed appearances, comparing and contrasting these composers as only this inspired pianist and intellectual can.
Denk is thrilled to be joining the prestigious Nonesuch roster, and his unusual musical explorations are a fantastic fit for the groundbreaking label. Critics, too, have praised Denk’s ability to creatively tackle a diverse array of repertoire. Harry Rolnick of writes:
Jeremy Denk’s recitals float so easily above the piano that one can’t imagine him doing scales and exercises. His fingers delight as much in the impossible intricacies of a Ligeti étude, as they swirl around a Bach toccata. His power for a Beethoven sonata is daunting–not for its physical command as its emotional grasp. And his trademark sonatas of Charles Ives offer a more dramatic view of the composer than any older pianist.
Denk’s Le Poisson Rouge event will further illustrate the fascinating connections he’s made on this recording. In his Ligeti/Beethoven liner notes, Denk discusses some of his thoughts on the composers’ similarities: how Ligeti’s Études are seemingly a sequel to late Beethoven, how there is a thematic connection “between Beethoven’s vast timeless canvas and Ligeti’s bite-size bits of infinity,” and “the way both the Ligeti and Beethoven works are about separations between dueling, different visions of time.” Denk also writes about another link:
A…crucial connection is the relation to syncopation, to rhythmic mayhem, to jazz (in Beethoven’s case proleptically!). Beethoven’s boogie-woogie is disturbing to some, bewildering to others, but he gets there by logical steps; the ecstatic syncopations are an outgrowth of forces latent in the theme. And this sense of ecstasy, derived from weird energies hidden in basic ideas, is just as central to the discombobulations of Ligeti. Passages of abandonment are everywhere in the Études… All these draw out, in a sense, rhythmic joys of jazz: ecstatic play, the play of freedom against order.
Ligeti/Beethoven is available for preorder at
May 21, 2012
7.30pm (doors open at 6.30pm)
Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker Street, NYC 10012
Tickets are available at

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