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Denk, Davis and DSO deliver magical Beethoven 'Emperor'

05.23.16
Sir Andrew Davis, Jeremy Denk
Detroit Free Press

Getting the old band back together doesn't always pay dividends, but it certainly did Sunday afternoon, when the gifted American pianist Jeremy Denk, veteran English conductor Andrew Davis and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra combined for a magical performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor"). In 2009 these same forces convened to give a scintillating reading of Beethoven's First Piano Concerto. At this point, DSO officials should start coordinating calendars to bring Denk and Davis back in coming seasons to finish off a Beethoven concerto cycle with Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

Denk brought out the human tension in the dialogue between  left and right hands, and he italicized  Beethoven's habit of turning left harmonically when you expected a right  The slow movement managed to sound both sublime and, in its slightly manic trills, earthy. The concluding rondo was a romp,  but the time was flexible, relaxed, as natural as breathing. Davis was a terrific partner here, catching the implications of Denk's phrasing and translating them to the orchestra, which produced a sound both soothingly beautiful and, when needed, tough and brawny. As an encore, Denk delivered a hushed, heartfelt, account of one of the slow movements in Bach's "Goldberg" Variations. 

Read the rest of the review here