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Ligeti / Beethoven


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Audio CD, May 15, 2012
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Ligeti / Beethoven + J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (CD+DVD) + Jeremy Denk: Bach Partitas 3 & 4 & 6
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Product Details

  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven, Gyorgy Ligeti
  • Audio CD (May 15, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B007SUW26A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,074 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book One): I. Désordre
2. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book One): II. Cordes à vide
3. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book One): III. Touches bloquées
4. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book One): IV. Fanfares
5. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book One): V. Arc-en-ciel
6. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book One): VI. Automne à Varsovie
7. Beethoven: Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111: Maestoso: Allegro con brio ed appassionato
8. Beethoven: Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111: Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile
9. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book Two): VII. Galamb borong
10. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book Two): VIII. Fém
11. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book Two): IX. Vertige
12. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book Two): X. Der Zauberlehrling
13. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book Two): XI. En suspens
14. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book Two): XII. Entrelacs
15. Ligeti: Piano Etudes (Book Two): XIII. L'escalier du diable

Editorial Reviews

Nonesuch releases the label debut from acclaimed pianist Jeremy Denk, Ligeti/Beethoven. The solo recording features Ligeti's "Piano Études," Books One and Two, which Denk memorably performed in a series of recitals in 2011. The New York Times said his reading of the works left "audience members grasping for superlatives at intermission." The sets of "Études," six from Book One and seven from Book Two, bookend Denk's recording of Beethoven's "Sonata No. 32" in C Minor, Op. 111, on the album. The Times said of Denk's 2010 Mostly Mozart Festival performance of the work: "This account, alive to every suggestion and nuance in the score, was an absolute joy to witness. 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."

In his Ligeti/Beethoven liner note, Denk explains his reasons for recording these works together: "One curious connection...is the way both Ligeti and Beethoven relate themselves to jazz (and to syncopation, rhythmic dislocation generally). Many people get disturbed, or confused, by Beethoven's anachronistic boogie-woogie; but I can't help thinking that however unlikely, this is an outgrowth, too, of ecstasies latent in the holy theme. There is a sense of ecstasy, too, in the discombobulations of Ligeti ...

"But the most significant connection for me is between Beethoven's vast timeless canvas and Ligeti's bite-sized bits of infinity. Almost every étude visits the infinite; Ligeti uses it almost as a kind of cadence, a reference point. From simplicity, he ranges into unimaginable complexity; he wanders to the quietest and loudest extremes; he veers off the top and bottom of the keyboard. Always the infinite is lurking around, reminding you that it's not impossible, that it exists. I think of the way, among other things, Beethoven drifts off at the end of the Arietta, the way he indicates ending without ending, implies an infinite space of silence surrounding the work."

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
15
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See all 16 customer reviews
Artistry and understanding...
doris sadler-davis
These works all ring with technical finesse while simultaneously creating moments of beauty.
Grady Harp
I am enjoying the great music.
art worm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ron Cronovich TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 27, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I'd never heard of Ligeti's piano etudes or Jeremy Denk until he was interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross a few months ago, though I've been a serious student of jazz piano and a more than casual fan of classical.

The interview and the samples from this recording it featured so entranced me that I spent the next 12 hours researching Ligeti and Denk, and have continued doing so (though with lesser intensity) in the months since. Jeremy Denk is extremely intelligent yet very accessible--both in terms of his playing and his discussion of the music.

As to the music itself, other reviewers have called Denk's performance "astonishing." To that, I would add "visceral," "dark," and "beautiful." Ligeti's pieces are among the most challenging a pianist can attempt; often times, the two hands are doing completely different things at the same time - playing in different keys, different time signatures, different dynamics, and playing phrases that move in different directions. Denk said, perhaps half-jokingly, that Ligeti was trying to punish pianists who attempt to play these pieces. Denk said that, to learn them, he basically locked himself in his apartment for months, with only his coffee maker and his piano, and kept practicing different fingerings and so forth.

It's also challenging to listen to these recordings. There's a lot going on. To my fellow Ligeti newbies, I think it would be every helpful (as well as enjoyable) to listen to that interview I mentioned (which you can easily find online).

You cannot help but be affected by Denk's performances. Repeated listenings are essential, especially for the Ligeti newbie. First, you hear chaos or confusion. Then, order. Finally, beauty.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 15, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Jeremy Denk is a unique artist as he so ably demonstrates in this recreation for Nonesuch of a recital he placed before the public on the East coast. Not only is his decision to bookend his immaculate and beautiful performance o of the Beethoven Sonata No 32 in C minor with excerpts from György Ligeti's Piano Etudes, Books one and Two, but his now expected discussion with the audience by way of his own liner notes enhances the pleasure of this adventuresome recording. . "One curious connection between the works on this album is the way both Ligeti and Beethoven relate themselves to jazz (and to syncopation, rhythmic dislocation generally). But the most significant connection for me is between Beethoven's vast timeless canvas and Ligeti's bite-sized bits of infinity." Stating how Ligeti's Études are seemingly a sequel to late Beethoven, he writes of 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."

The Ligeti Etudes he selected to record are short and glittering pieces of immense pianistic variety. His fingers 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 approach to the Beethoven Sonata is daunting-not only for its physical command as for its emotional grasp.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Op. 133 on January 30, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I had the privilege of hearing Denk perform these Etudes at Duke University in 2011. His playing was electric and turned me into an instant fan of Ligeti's piano work (ordinarily I avoid Ligeti, so that's saying a lot!) It's great to have this recording of him and the placing of Beethoven's Sonata 32 smack dab in the middle just seems to work somehow. Denk is certainly one of our most cutting edge, intelligent and sensitive pianists. He a has a pretty cool blog site: [...] He also wrote an interesting piece in the New Yorker about "The Perils of the Recording Studio." Just get this album. It'll open up a whole new world of sound for you. And even make you hear Beethoven differently.
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By mwlr on July 5, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent product quality and swift delivery
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By doris sadler-davis on June 30, 2014
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Artistry and understanding...
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ragtime Annie on April 17, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Jeremy Denk is masterful on piano. His strength and experience matches his talent.
After seeing him play in person not too long ago, I sent for this CD and was not disappointed! Although I am
also a fan of many other types of music, Denk draws me back into classical. He isn't just playing the old masters, but reinventing them with respect and originality. The piano becomes a partner. I am the listener and this trio is a joyful
connecting! I would highly recommend Ligeti/Beethoven, as played by Jeremy Denk.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jon P. Cavanaugh Spain on May 24, 2012
Format: Audio CD
There is no other word to describe these performances especially when you consider the technique involved and the preciseness of execution.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard Edwards on December 20, 2012
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I got this on Alex Ross' recommendation in the New Yorker.
It has become my fave album of the last several months. After dozens of playings it is still fresh and delightful.
Denk makes Ligeti make sense. It's much more beautiful that I expected.

I don't remember the Beethoven, I've only given the Ligeti multiple reasons.
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