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Jeremy Denk's Joyfully Mad Ligeti

Armed with cameras and microphones, we recently invaded the rehearsal spaces of prominent musicians. The result is "In Practice," a new series of videos you can watch here.

In this clip, pianist Jeremy Denk is deep in György Ligeti land — thoroughly engrossed in the composer's solo piano etudes. Denk thinks of this music as "wonderful, joyful madness."

Book One of Ligeti's etudes closes with "Automne à Varsovie" (Autumn in Warsaw). Denk talks of the descending chromatic lines that make beautiful harmonies together but, he says, "the urge of the piece is toward an ever denser thicket of lines, an accumulation, crowding beauty out." At the etude's thrilling conclusion, the music flies boldly off the bottom of the keyboard.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.