Entries in Britten Sinfonia (45)


Jeremy Denk joins Britten Sinfonia for a jazz-infused programme, including the original jazz band arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Tuesday 27 February – Milton Court Concert Hall, London

Friday 2 March - St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich

Monday 5 March – The Apex, Bury St Edmunds

The mercurial American pianist Jeremy Denk joins Britten Sinfonia to direct a jazz- inspired programme of music. At its centre are two works written in 1924: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, performed in the original jazz band arrangement and Stravinsky’s rhythmically complex Concerto for piano and winds. The programme is completed by Darius Milhaud’s jazz influenced ballet score, La creation du monde, which was premiered a year earlier, a selection of piano solos by Conlon Nancarrow, and Denk’s own arrangements by three musical radicals of the 16th and 17th centuries: Byrd; Gesualdo and Monteverdi.

Jeremy Denk and Britten Sinfonia first worked together in 2015 on a programme that brought together Bach and Stravinsky, and as part of the Barbican’s Sound Unbound weekend. Jeremy Denk is Milton Court Artist-in-Residence in the Barbican’s 2017/2018 season, and Britten Sinfonia is Associate Ensemble at the Barbican.

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, described by the composer as “a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America’’ was premiered at Aeolian Hall, New York on 12 February 1924 in a concert entitled An Experiment in Modern Music. Now best known in its more elaborate scoring for piano and full symphony orchestra, the work was originally conceived for bandleader Paul Whiteman’s 24-piece jazz band. The original, less bombastic version, which features in this programme, lays bare Rhapsody in Blue’s roots in the jazz halls and nightclubs of New York. Stravinsky’s Concerto for piano and wind instruments was written at the request of conductor Serge Koussevitsky, and was premiered in 1924 with Stravinsky at the keyboard. As a pianist himself, Stravinsky loved writing for the instrument, and his keyboard works, including this concerto, wear their experimentation, complexity and fiendish difficulty lightly. A critical success, the concerto’s 1924 premiere was not without incident. Stravinsky later confessed that after finishing playing the first movement, he forgot the next notes, and Koussevitsky had to quietly hum them to him, which was “enough to restore my balance and enable me to attack the Largo”.

Full concert details at