R I C H A R D D A N I E L P O U R
An American Mosaic
ARTIST: Pianist Simone Dinnerstein
LABEL: Supertrain Records - B08WZ8XLY6
An American Mosiac was written in the hope of giving comfort and consolation to so many who were suffering during the period of the pandemic. Simone Dinnerstein's performance of this reording is extraordinary in every way. With the three Bach transcriptions that I wrote for her, this CD will hopefully serve as a catalyst for healing in the difficult and troubled times we live in.
Simone Dinnerstein is an American pianist. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, son and dog, less than a mile from the hospital in which she was born.
Simone 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 created her own string ensemble, Baroklyn, which she directs from the keyboard. Their performance of 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.
Both ‘The Visible Enemy’ (No 7) and ‘The Invisible Enemy’ (No 9) expertly follow the mid-20th-century American Schuman/Harris/Piston playbook, while ‘An Elegy for Our Time’ (No 8) showcases Danielpour’s lyrical gift at its heartfelt and understated best. So does the epilogue Consolation.
The music is deeply poetic, wonderfully pianistic, touching on musical equivalents to the movements titles: "The Invisible Enemy" and the "The Visible Enemy," for examples, i.e., the COVID-19 itself and what one might dub the "bleach drinking" imbalanced personalities we all experienced. Nobody important is left out--each has a movement, so "Caretakers and Research Physicians" and "Journalists, Poets & Writers." There are four "Consolations" movements. The music has depth and singing significances that are tonal and dramatically Post-Impressionist.
It is a perfect marriage of historical unfolding, musical inspiration and performative excellence. Surely it is the first Pandemic masterwork. I have listened lots of times and I must say I do feel the solace and revel in it. Danielpour and Dinnerstein are godsends, coming through with the sympathetic enjoinment we so sorely need in these difficult times!
-Classical Modern Music
Danielpour’s writing is at once decidedly abstract but also highly accessible. His harmonic language is essentially diatonic. He doesn’t shy away from writing tunes. There’s a healthy appreciation for the canon and convention in his language, but it never comes across as derivative or old-fashioned.
Quite the contrary: Mosaic is a fascinating study of how a contemporary composer can fuse the gestures and syntax of a tradition rooted in Bach with contemporary sensibilities.
-The Arts Fuse