Jeremy Denk | Symphony Center | Classical | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sun., Oct. 13, 3 p.m. 2013
Price: $20-$78
Two weeks ago pianist Jeremy Denk was awarded one of this year’s MacArthur Fellowship grants, and on October 1 he released his take on Bach’s Goldberg Variations via Nonesuch Records. The deceptive ease and rhythmic vitality of his lucid performance extends from the most serene passages to the most turbulent. The release includes a DVD containing video liner notes, which give me reason to suspect that Denk’s remarkable skill as a writer helped earn him that MacArthur grant—he can break down the most complex or mystifying work in an accessible way. Denk’s writing is more than explication and education—it’s practically entertainment, and on the DVD he parses Bach’s music with typical wit and imagination, sitting at a piano so that he can give musical demonstrations of each point. Last year NPR Music published a typically incisive Denk essay on the Goldbergs, in which he wrote, “I worried for years that I would be seduced into playing them, and would become like all the others—besotted, cultish—and that is exactly what happened. I have been assimilated into the Goldberg Borg.” Denk’s magnificent performance, though, makes me thankful he was sucked in—along with his insightful thoughts on the mechanics of the piece, it ought to convert plenty more people. He’ll perform the Goldberg Variations today. —Peter Margasak


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