Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Musical Offering note of approval

I have commented before on my love of Bach's Goldberg Variations.  I don't think I've commented about the pianist Jeremy Denk, but he also rates highly with me.  I first saw him in concert as an accompanist to Joshua Bell, and I spent more of the concert paying attention to Denk than to Bell.  Since then I've seen him again as accompanist and also in a solo recital, and I've been consistently impressed. 

The solo recital featured book I of the Ligeti Etudes, some huge maelstrom of notes by Liszt, and the Goldbergs.  It was one of the more interesting reads of the variations that I'd heard.  Well, Mr. Denk has finally recorded the Goldbergs, and the recording reminds me of why I so thoroughly enjoyed the recital.  The variations are a rich enough text that like the Bible or Shakespeare, you can find an interpretation to suit your needs whatever they may be.  What Denk found, and presented, is something that I haven't heard much.  He gives us a sort of extremely intelligent, playful humor.  There are 2nd-grader jokes, and there are jokes that give you the impression that the world is pausing to gently laugh at its own intricate behavior, and the latter are the kind of jokes that Denk sees Bach serving up.  This is consistent with the performers (public) personality; if you want a slightly cerebral laugh, go visit his infrequently updated blog.

Anyway, I hereby recommend this album.  It's not the best recording out there, because such a thing no more exists than the correct interpretation of the Torah.  However, it's a really cogent, beautiful, witty performance and well worth your while. 

(Post script--I seem to have not written here in a while.  My apologies.  Life has been hectic in the extreme, but I hope to get back on this particular horse.)

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