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Monday, June 14, 2021

Richard Danielpour, An American Mosaic, Simone Dinnerstein


Composer Richard Danielpour shines brightly as one of the most illustrious and talented of living US composers. There is a wondrous new recording of a substantial suite for solo piano, An American Mosaic (Supertrain Records 025), as played with great sensitivity and verve by Simone Dinnerstein.

All of this music was born out of Richard's anxiety and insomnia last year in the first stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The only thing that relaxed him and allowed him to sleep was listening to Simone Dinnerstein's Bach recordings.

A plan took shape to compose a suite that would provide true solace to those like him that did their best in unprecidented, trying circumstances, "whether they [were] caretakers and research physicians, parents and children, rabbis and ministers, doctors and interns, or teachers and students, these individuals [were] the face of America" in the composer's own words.

He got in contact with Simone Dinnerstein and during the summer and fall of last year, Simone entirely remotely on the other coast of the USA collaborated with Danielpour, learning each of the 15 movements and giving valuable feedback on performance elements.

The results are here, all of the "Mosaic" plus three Bach Transcriptions Danielpour arranged for Dinnerstein--from the Mass and the St. Matthew Passion. The entire program the composer and the pianist hope will give solace to all those caught within the emotional roller coaster of various developments in the last year or so.

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! I recommend this one very highly.  

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