Pianist Jeremy Denk to perform at Macalester

By Michael Richter

This Sunday, Macalester’s music department will host the first of three Chopin Society concerts taking place this semester. The featured soloist will be American pianist Jeremy Denk, an established concert pianist and a faculty member at Bard College’s Conservatory of Music.As a soloist, Denk has earned praise from some of classical music’s top critics. Anthony Tommasini, chief music critic for the New York Times, called Denk’s playing “thrilling,” noting his ability to bring a “rare combination of command and spontaneity to his performances.” These comments came after Denk’s 2008 performance at New York’s Zankel Hall, known as something of a proving ground for promising pianists.

Aside form his performing, Denk is also known for his popular music blog “think denk.” While it may seem strange that a practitioner of such an antiquarian art form would also be interested in blogging, Denk’s writing is quite entertaining. His articles range from serious musical commentary, to more lighthearted opinions on pop culture’s treatment of classical music. In a recent article he discussed how he watched “Twilight: New Moon” twice just to hear some Schubert song that features in the movie. Somehow he managed to turn this into a solid critique on Hollywood’s use of classical music to represent “soulless” and “anachronistic” characters.

For Sunday’s concert, Denk will play a collection of short pieces by Robert Schumann followed by Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Both selections are part of the traditional repertoire and very accessible to the average listener. Many will recognize the Goldberg Variations as it is one of Bach’s most frequently played pieces and has featured in a number of movies, most notably as Hannibal Lecter’s theme in “The Silence of the Lambs.”

The concert, presented by The Frederic Chopin Society of Minnesota, will take place in the Janet-Wallace Fine Arts Center on Sunday, Jan. 31st at 3:00. Student tickets can be purchased at the door for $12.