Simone Dinnerstein Releases A Character of Quiet
Philip Glass: Etudes No. 16, No. 6 and No. 2
Schubert: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960
Worldwide Release Date: September 18, 2020
Orange Mountain Music
“lean, knowing, and unpretentious elegance” – The New Yorker
New York, NY – On Friday, September 18, 2020, American pianist Simone Dinnerstein releases her next album, A Character of Quiet, on Orange Mountain Music. The album includes Philip Glass’s Etudes No. 16, No. 6 and No. 2 paired with Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960. Dinnerstein recorded it over the course of two evenings at her home in Brooklyn in June 2020, during the quiet of the New York City lockdown, with her longtime producer and friend Adam Abeshouse. Known internationally for her concerts and recordings (among others, her widely celebrated recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations), Simone Dinnerstein is also the pianist for whom Philip Glass composed his Piano Concerto No.3 in 2017, which was released the following year by Orange Mountain Music on the album Circles – Piano Concertos by Bach and Glass.
Dinnerstein writes, “My experience of the pandemic was hardly unique in that it dramatically restricted my world. My son came back from London. My husband started working from home. All of my travel and concerts were cancelled. Time seemed to stop. I felt very lucky to be able to stay in one place with my family but, candidly, lockdown did not make me feel creative or productive. It made me anxious and enervated. Indeed, for two months I think I barely touched the piano. Music did not seem like an adequate response to everything that was happening in the world. Instead I read Wordsworth and Melville and went for walks in Green-Wood, the historic cemetery on my doorstep.”
The pieces by Glass and Schubert that Dinnerstein chose to record are works she has performed frequently over the past several years. The Washington Post wrote of her performance at Wolf Trap, “Schubert revels in tone color, this piece in particular, and in Dinnerstein’s hands an astonishing richness of opulence, brilliance, muted hues and quiet clarity spoke eloquently and moved inevitably in an intense and moving performance.” Of her concert at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, the San Francisco Classical Voice remarked, “To conceive of the repetitions characteristic of Glass’s work as mechanized is tempting. Yet each of Dinnerstein’s returns to these phrases, as well as their analogues in the Schubert, seemed organic, even unexpected, as fluid as breathing.”
Dinnerstein writes in her notes for this album about the similarities between the two composers, and their relevance to her making this album during this time: “I love their pared down quality, their economy, their ability to change everything by changing just one note in a chord. Their asceticism suited the moment. But there is a sensual element in both, too, because the human voice is central to Glass and Schubert’s sound worlds. They both create a feeling of a solitary journey, a sense of time being trapped through repeated vision and revision as the music tries to work itself to a conclusion. This all spoke to the way I was feeling.”
The album’s title comes from William Wordsworth’s “The Prelude,” a poem Dinnerstein had been reading during the lockdown, which refers to, “A character of quiet more profound than pathless wastes.”
It was producer Adam Abeshouse who convinced Dinnerstein to return to playing again, after her time away from the piano during the beginning of the pandemic. He wondered if this had led her to new places, artistically. She now feels it did.
“Perhaps I had been parted too long from my better self by the hurrying world, as Wordsworth puts it,” Dinnerstein says. “The qualities that I now found most essential to the music were the most quiet, the most nuanced, the most private. Those were the qualities that seemed important as I played for myself in my own room while Adam recorded. I hope that the listener will feel them too.”
Simone Dinnerstein | A Character of Quiet
Orange Mountain Music | Release Date: September 18, 2020
1. Philip Glass: Etude No. 16 [7:30]
2. Philip Glass: Etude No. 6 [5:20]
3. Philip Glass: Etude No. 2 [11:15]
[4-7] Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960
4. I. Molto moderato [22:35]
5. II. Andante sostenuto [10:46]
6. III. Scherzo allegro vivace con delicatezza [4:45]
7. IV. Allegro, ma non troppo [9:33]
About Simone Dinnerstein:
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein has a distinctive musical voice. The Washington Post
has called her “an artist of strikingly original ideas and irrefutable integrity.” She first came to wider public attention in 2007 through her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, reflecting an aesthetic that was both deeply rooted in the score and profoundly idiosyncratic. She is, wrote the New York Times
, “a unique voice in the forest of Bach interpretation.”
Since that recording she has had a busy performing career. She has played with orchestras ranging from the New York Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Rai. She has performed in venues from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to the Berlin Philharmonie, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Seoul Arts Center and the Sydney Opera House. She has made ten albums, all of which topped the Billboard classical charts, with repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Ravel.
In recent years, Simone has created projects that express her broad musical interests. Following her recording Mozart in Havana, she brought the Havana Lyceum Orchestra from Cuba to the United States for the very first time, raising the funding, booking the concerts, and organizing their housing and transport. Together, Simone and the orchestra played eleven concerts from Miami to Boston. Philip Glass composed his Piano Concerto No. 3 for Simone, co-commissioned by twelve American and Canadian orchestras. She collaborated with choreographer Pam Tanowitz to create New Work for Goldberg Variations, which was met with widespread critical acclaim. Working with Renée Fleming and the Emerson String Quartet she premiered André Previn and Tom Stoppard’s Penelope at the Tanglewood, Ravinia and Aspen music festivals. Most recently she has created her own string ensemble, Baroklyn, which she directs from the keyboard. The performance she led of them playing Bach’s cantata Ich Habe Genug in March 2020 was the last concert she gave before New York City shut down.
Simone is committed to giving concerts in non-traditional venues and to audiences who don’t often hear classical music. For the last three decades she has played concerts throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to the widespread dissemination of classical music. It was for the Piatigorsky Foundation that she gave the first piano recital in the Louisiana state prison system at the Avoyelles Correctional Center. She has also performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Simone founded Neighborhood Classics in 2009, a concert series open to the public and hosted by New York City public schools to raise funds for their music education programs. She also created a program called Bachpacking during which she takes a digital keyboard to elementary school classrooms, helping young children get close to the music she loves. She is a committed supporter and proud alumna of Philadelphia’s Astral Artists, which supports young performers.
Simone counts herself fortunate to have studied with three unique artists: Solomon Mikowsky, Maria Curcio and Peter Serkin, very different musicians who shared the belief that playing the piano is a means to something greater. The Washington Post comments that “ultimately, it is Dinnerstein’s unreserved identification with every note she plays that makes her performance so spellbinding.” In a world where music is everywhere, she hopes that it can still be transformative.
Simone Dinnerstein lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, son and dog, less than a mile from the hospital in which she was born.
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