“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.“ – The New York Times
American pianist Jeremy Denk has steadily built a reputation as an unusual and compelling artist, with a broad and thought-provoking repertoire. He has appeared as soloist with many major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and London. He regularly gives recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and around the United States. This season he makes solo appearances in venues including Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and London’s Wigmore Hall, and plays concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, and Ravel. Denk is known for his witty and personal music writing, which has appeared in the New Yorker, the front page of the New York Times Book Review, Newsweek, and on the website of NPR Music. He looks forward to performing and curating as artistic director of the 2014 Ojai Music Festival, for which he is also composing the libretto to a semi-satirical opera.
In 2012, Denk made his debut as a Nonesuch recording artist with a pairing of masterpieces old and new: Ligeti’s highly complex Études and Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata. This album was featured on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, while BBC Music’s review concluded: “All in all, it’s a marvel.” The pianist also plans to record Bach’s Goldberg Variations over the winter for release on the storied, innovative label. Besides his enduring devotion to the Baroque master’s work, Denk has a long-standing attachment to the music of American visionary Charles Ives, and his recording of Ives’s two Piano Sonatas was selected for many “best of the year” lists. Last season, he was invited by Michael Tilson Thomas to appear as a soloist in the San Francisco Symphony’s “American Mavericks” festival, and he recorded Henry Cowell’s Piano Concerto with the orchestra. Denk has cultivated relationships with many living composers, and has several commissioning projects currently in progress.
An avid chamber musician, the pianist has most recently spent considerable time touring with violinist Joshua Bell, and French Impressions – their recording of Franck, Saint-Saëns, and Ravel – was recently released on the Sony Classical label, winning the 2012 Echo-Klassik award. Denk also regularly collaborates with cellist Steven Isserlis. He has appeared at numerous festivals, including the Italian and American Spoleto Festivals, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music, Verbier, Tanglewood, Aspen, and “Mostly Mozart” Festivals, besides spending many summers at Vermont’s Marlboro Music School.
Denk’s blog, unfortunately titled “Think Denk,” has been praised and referenced by many in the music press and industry. There the pianist recounts his touring, performing, and practicing experiences, as well as delving into detailed musical analyses; Alex Ross, the music critic of the New Yorker, described him as “a superb musician who writes with arresting sensitivity and wit. … This is a voice that, effectively, could never have been heard before the advent of the Internet: sophisticated on the one hand, informal on the other, immediate in impact. Blogs such as this put a human face on an alien culture.”
After graduating from Oberlin College and Conservatory in piano and chemistry, Denk earned a master’s degree in music from Indiana University as a pupil of György Sebök, and a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Herbert Stessin. Denk lives in New York City, and his web site and blog are at jeremydenk.net.
© 21C Media Group, October 2012