MacArthur Fellow Jeremy Denk—Now Topping This Week's Billboard Classical Charts—Appears on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show
Jeremy Denk will give a live interview and performance at as a featured guest on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show (Oct 31). This live appearance comes during what has already proven to be a banner fall for the pianist. Since being named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow in September, he has contributed to the New Yorker magazine and podcast, and scored twin triumphs with Bach's Goldberg Variations, on tour and on his most recent recording. Released on the Nonesuch label, this CD/DVD-set currently ranks number one on both the Billboard "Classical Albums" and "Traditional Classical Albums" charts (week ending Nov 2), and has earned an abundance of rapturous reviews. As the Wall Street Journal observes, "of all America's up-and-coming classical instrumentalists, Jeremy Denk, the pianist-blogger who won a MacArthur Foundation 'genius grant' in September, might well be the most interesting."
Despite presenting one of the most beloved, challenging, and oft-recorded works in the keyboard literature, the pianist's recording of Bach's transcendent Goldberg Variations has inspired awe in even the most discerning of critics. According to the San Francisco Chronicle,
"Denk's technically adroit reading of the 'Goldbergs' is at once loving and slightly skeptical, without any hint of false piety, and he brings out all the beauty and ingenuity of the music. The transparency of the counterpoint, the rhetorical fervor of the melodic passages, even the dark splendor of the set's few minor-key movements—all these qualities and more come through in glorious, maddening brilliance."
BBC Music magazine called the album "an extended love letter to intellectual curiosity, the spirit of playfulness, and Bach." Comparing it to well-regarded older recordings of the "Goldbergs," the five-star review continued: "Denk can dazzle like Glenn Gould, dance like Angela Hewitt, and sing like Murray Perahia or András Schiff. No fool's messenger he." Likewise, in the WSJ, Terry Teachout admired Denk's "striking blend of deeply considered expression and total technical command," before concluding:
"I find Mr. Denk's interpretation of the 'Goldbergs' to be enthrallingly involving. He is one of our finest musical minds, and anything that such folk have to say about the classics is by definition worth hearing."
Denk's season-launching "Goldbergs" concert tour found similar favor. His appearance at Chicago's Symphony Center was hailed as one of the fall's ten best classical events by Time Out Chicago, which dubbed him a "klavier blackbelt," and the Chicago Tribune reflected: "Few of today's important concert pianists have pondered J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations as deeply, written about the piece as extensively, or play it as exuberantly, as Jeremy Denk." After his performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the response was equally heartfelt. The Washington Post declared: "Denk has the 'Goldbergs' deep in his corpuscles; the technical mastery was such that he could give full play to an unending stream of ideas. ... Denk projected the piece as a journey of the soul, into darkness and back again."
Following his appearance on the Leonard Lopate Show, the pianist looks forward to reuniting with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony to play Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25, first at the orchestra's home in San Francisco (Nov 7-10), and then on tour in Urbana-Champaign (Nov 15) and at New York's Carnegie Hall (Nov 13). The New York performance will be broadcast and streamed live as part of WQXR and Carnegie Hall's national "Carnegie Hall Live" series.