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."