The New York Times says Jeremy Denk "clearly, is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs, in whatever combination."
Local music lovers will have that chance when Denk joins the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 16 in the Raising Cane's River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Audience members can expect what the Times describes as Denk's "penetrating intellectual engagement with the music and … generosity of his playing" in the symphony's second Masterworks concert of the season, "Journeys of the Heart."
The program opens at 7:30 p.m. with Dmitri Shostakovich's "Festive Overture" and ends with Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 6, Pathetique."
But the main spotlight will be on Denk as conductor Timothy Muffitt leads the symphony through Beethoven's "Concerto for Piano, No. 4 in G Major," better known as "4th" Piano Concerto."
"I worked with Jeremy when he performed with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra last season," Muffitt said. "After working with him and seeing the way the audience responded to him, I wanted to bring him to Baton Rouge."
Muffitt added that he and Denk collaborated in choosing the Beethoven concerto for the symphony's program.
"It's the perfect piece for this concert, which looks at a broad range of musical expression," Muffitt said. "It opens with the Shostakovich piece, which is overtly joyous and celebratory, and ends with the Tchaikovsky piece, which really plums the depth of human feeling from joy to despair."
And in between is Beethoven's most personal piano concerto.
"He wrote five piano concertos, but the fourth one feels like his most personal piece," Muffitt said. "And if fits into the expressive flow of the program."
Add to that Denk's expressive performance style, and Muffitt is confident the audience will be moved.
"Jeremy energizes the audience," Muffitt said. "In a world of with many great pianists, Jeremy is truly extraordinary."
The symphony's "Journeys of the Heart" concert is presented in partnership with the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, for which Denk will perform a solo concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 in the LSU School of Music Recital Hall as guest artist in the school's Performing Arts Series. He will follow the concert with a lecture at 11 a.m. Dec. 1, also in the Recital Hall.
Tickets to the "Journeys of the Heart" Masterworks concert are $38-$72 and can be purchased by calling (225) 383-0500 or visiting brso.org.
Denk has been called one of America’s foremost pianists. He recently was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and frequently performs in Carnegie Hall. He also has performed with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and has toured with Academy St. Martin in the Fields.