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Monday, October 19, 2020

Simone Dinnerstein, A Character of Quiet, Schubert - Glass


Pianist Simone Dinnerstein recorded a solo piano album at her Brooklyn home last June at the beginning of the COVID Pandemic. The eerie quietude of the Big Apple in this period has poetic reflection in the solo piano album that resulted from her June sessions, aptly titled A Character of Quiet, Schubert - Glass (OMM Orange Mountain Music 0147). Now of course music paradoxically cannot be strictly quiet. It exists through breaking the silence. Yet this special "CHARACTER" of quiet builds its sound as it considers the quiet surrounding existence in this, a most odd and dark time period.

And so Simone Dinnerstein by her very choice of repertoire and then in her specially concentrated performances reflects that character in ways that do full justice to the music as spawned in the quiet and relative solitude of New York Pandemic Life Saving Time.

Each work comes out of the quiet in a special way. The Philip Glass Etudes Nos. 16, 6 and 2 are of a piece, in an ostinato minor reflectivity that Ms. Dinnerstein gives a quiet and then less quiet passion to without seeking to call a lot of attention to her own part in the realization. That is fitting for the world we hold onto and collectively resist as we persist. Now I do not automatically like a Phillip Glass solo piano work. The combination of the music itself and the simpatico performance makes it all work when it does. It surely does here. 

Then too,  Schubert's wonderful Piano Sonata in Bb, D 960 expresses a sometimes quiet passion, an abundance of melodically long-form spinning that Simone gives introspective weight to, reflecting and reacting in beautiful ways, spanning the extraordinarily inventive breadth of each movement with a just-so articulation that works wonderfully well. 

This performance may not have the sort of over-the-top grandstanding exuberance of a typically good performance of a while ago, but then we are in a time where the music and hence the performance must in some ways exist for us in a singular solitude, without the contagion of a bravo response, but then with a savoring at once striking and disarmingly straightforward, that is in the case with Ms. Dinnerstein's performance. As I asked on Facebook as I first listened to this album, how can such a rotten world produce something as beautiful as the D. 960 Sonata? It is in the contrast that we discover the essence, I guess. And in the process we recognize that not ALL life is rotten, of course.

Like any worthwhile new performance should, it causes one to reflect anew and rediscover the wonderful intricacies of the work all over again. Dinnerstein makes the music sing out touchingly. If life is precious, this Schubert helps make it so. It does. So I recommend this album heartily. It will help you through, I hope, and we can all meet in a concert on the other side of this time, one can only hope fervently. Bravo anyway!

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