by Jarrett Hoffman
Almost two years passed, with Jeremy Denk limited to thinking about the piece, playing around with the fingerings, and maybe emailing the composer a question or two. All while he had it solidly learned.
“That was horrible not to be able to play this piece,” the pianist said during a recent telephone interview. “But.” He paused. “Good things come to those who wait, I suppose.”
Only recently did the opportunity arrive to perform John Adams’ third piano concerto, Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? — written in 2018, and played by only a couple of other keyboardists before Denk was to take it on with the composer on the podium in late March of 2020.
Finally, his first go at it came in Seattle in the early days of 2022. St. Louis is next, in late January. And Cleveland will follow when Denk and Adams share the Severance stage with The Cleveland Orchestra on February 3 (at 7:30 pm), February 5 (at 8:00 pm), and February 6 (at 3:00 pm).
“Now we’re really in the thick of trying to define this piece and make sense of it,” Denk said, “which is so much fun.”