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Jeremy Denk Plays Ives CD, Classical

4.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, Classical, October 12, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Jeremy Denk's long-awaited CD of the Piano Sonatas of Charles Ives. With accompanying 24-page booklet notes written by Denk "that remind us why the Washington Post's Joan Reinthaler found Denk's "the most interesting and well-written program notes [she had] ever read." Denk's recital programs have long featured not only Ives's famous and monumental "Concord" Sonata but also the far less familiar Sonata No. 1, impressing critics with "thrilling performances" (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times) that offer "an entire world" (Anne Midgette, Washington Post). "Ives wants to recreate the raw experience of music-making, something unfiltered, and beyond all your piano lessons... . While driving me crazy, he reminds me why I play the piano at all." - Jeremy Denk

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 12, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD, Classical
  • Label: Think Denk Media
  • Run Time: 74 minutes
  • ASIN: B00465QYS2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,627 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Wow.

I've been waiting for Jeremy to record these sonatas ever since we took a musicology class on Charles Ives from the inimitable J. Peter Burkholder together at IU almost 20 years ago! Even back then, it was clear that Jeremy had a special insight into Ives and that he could really do justice to these incredibly complex and beautiful pieces.

This recording satisfies on many levels. Jeremy expresses the over-the-top exuberance and almost inexpressible density of Ives' ideas with full gusto, and then drops instantly into the most tender and beautiful expressions of the nostalgia and referential memory of Ives. In listening to this recording, I heard things I'd never heard before, particularly the clear references to all of the tunes that make up Ives' world--it seems like Jeremy "gets" and honors each and every one of them, when many pianists get the major ones but lose many of the shorter or more hidden ones in the overall soundscape.

Perhaps even more satisfying is the way that Jeremy is so pianistic--he plays this so beautifully as a piece of music, not as a study in Ives. It IS a study in Ives, but I find myself absorbed in the beauty of the piano playing, too.

And the program notes are wonderful, showing Jeremy's mastery of these works on an intellectual and musical level, and making Ives interesting, accessible and relevant.

Bravo!! Buy this CD, whether or not you are a fan of Ives. You won't regret it, and whether or not you like or know Ives, you will find yourself discovering 2 amazing pieces of music, either newly, or through rejuvenated ears.
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Format: Audio CD
This album from one of the best players and writers in American classical music impresses me on so many fronts. He is, above all, a masterful pianist. Never have these pieces sounded so approachable, so clear, so exciting and so alive. You can really hear the influences of the French Impressionists like Debussy and Ravel, as well as some good old American blues and folk tunes. Denk's playing is note perfect but never at the expense of soul. And for those who are fans of Beethoven's Fifth (or who really hate it!), Ives's ir/reverent deconstruction of the "da da da dum" theme in the Concord Sonata is both funny and moving.

For those who know him from his blog Think Denk, there are, as you might expect and hope for, pages upon pages of insightful booklet notes written by Denk that help demystify that great American mystic, Charles Ives, for those who (like me) find him fascinating, but sometimes a little... well... mystifying! Also has a great essay all about the Beethoven's Fifth / Concord Sonata connection.

Both through his playing and his writing, this is a masterpiece, really worth it to get the CD as you get the booklet though it is also an MP3 - Alcotts is the most beautiful track - maybe a good place to start.
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Format: Audio CD
Jeremy Denk has become perhaps our most visible and articulate champion of the music of Charles Ives, which is all to the good. I very much enjoyed his performance, with Soovin Kim, of the composer's four violin sonatas in Philadelphia a few years ago, and so, when I heard he had recorded the two piano sonatas, I was excited. I asked for and received the CD for Christmas, and having listened to it, I have to say it's a disappointment. A big one. I have almost a dozen recordings of the Concord, fewer of the First Sonata, and Denk has not replaced any of them in my affections. He seems to think Ives is an American Liszt (as if we needed one), and he goes in for romantic bombast, banging away in the forte sections while smoothing over the mood shifts and jokes with lots of pedal. The result is aggressive in a way that is often mistaken for Ivesian, but it's also homogenized. The Emerson movement suffers in particular, losing much of its grandeur. The Thoreau movement, by contrast, is overly misty, like a parody of Debussy. (The flute at the end is so distant and washed out that its entrance makes hardly any impression at all.) Ives's famous wit has been suppressed, too, and his homespun elements lack flavor: the hymns aren't very hymnlike, the rags aren't very raggy, and you can't march to the marches. And for the very first time in my life, the First Sonata left me with a headache. This is Ives for people who would rather be listening to something else. (One blogger wrote of this CD, "You don't get many reminders that Ives was a contemporary of Rachmaninoff and Busoni." No, you don't - and a good thing, too.) Give Denk credit, though. He's managed to do something no other performer has ever done: he made me question whether I have been wrong about the value of Ives's music for so many years.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Jeremy Denk who honors Seattle with frequent performances here. I heard him play the Ives Sonata #1 at the University of Washington a couple years back. Denk is one of the great Ives interpreters performing today--others include Michael Tilson Thomas and Hillary Hahn. It would be great to hear more Ives performed in concert, why it isn't baffles me. Good to have these 2 important sonatas performed so well on disk.
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Format: Audio CD
Jeremy Denk is an artist and a scholar and it is the combination of these two aspects of his makeup that bring this new recording of the two piano sonatas of Charles Ives into the spotlight. Denk's educational background is staggering: he graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory in piano and chemistry, won a master's degree in music form Indiana University, and a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School! His performing career includes works from Bach to Mozart to Beethoven to Ives to Ligeti and the 'contemporary friends' such as Jake Heggie, Ned Rorem, Libby Larson, Tobias Picker, Kevin Puts and Leon Kirchner, etc. Impressive credentials, these.

Denk's approach to Ives is about as committed as a pianist can be. Everything about the performances of these two difficult works is centered and under his control. While Ives' Concord Sonata is well loved, the Sonata No. 1 is less often played. Denk makes a tremendous case for it and offers a performance as fine as any on record. As far as the Concord sonata, few other artists have been able to plumb the depths while honoring both the wit and the profundity of the work as does Denk. This is a challenging pairing of works brought to the listener with a new compassion for the genius that was Charles Ives.

As for the live performance aspect of Jeremy Denk, he has performed in countless chamber recitals across the country. He is currently the soloist with the Los Angles Philharmonic with a reading of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Gustavo Dudamel conducting) that is a revelation. His phrasing and technical finesse bring fresh air to this well known work. He has the ability to communicate not only with the composer's ideas but also with the orchestra and a rousing response from the audience. Although Jeremy Denk is already a permanent fixture in the music world it seems he is on the brink of international acclaim. Grady Harp, March 11
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