“an utterly distinctive voice in the forest of Bach interpretation” – The New York Times
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will release her first album on Sony Classical, Bach: A Strange Beauty, in January 2011. The new release, which is Dinnerstein’s first orchestral disc, sees the pianist return to Bach, this time combining three transcriptions of his Chorale Preludes with one of his English Suites and two of his Keyboard Concerti.
Interchanging Idioms reviewed her concert in Denver of the Bach Goldberg Variations:
"held the audience enwrapt for nearly an hour and a half, working her way meticulously through the 32 variations originally published in 1741. Her grace and fluidity throughout the program were ever present, but it was her mastery of shifts in style and interpretation that really held the audience captive.
Simone Dinnerstein’s special affinity to the music of Bach was cemented when her self-funded recording of his Goldberg Variations took the US Billboard charts by storm upon its release in 2007. Dinnerstein’s unique playing garnered impressive reviews. The New York Times chose the disc as one of the best of 2007, and reported it “An utterly distinctive voice in the forest of Bach interpretation.”
Her intense and expressive style as well as her individual approach to Bach’s music is also revealed in her debut on Sony Classical. The mixed program offers a range of sonorities and textures – the solo piano, piano with orchestra, the piano mimicking other instruments, and even the piano evoking a soloist with orchestra, as it does during the English Suite.
The title Dinnerstein has chosen for her album comes from a quote from the writer and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon about beauty: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” She feels this exemplifies the way she experiences Bach’s music. Seemingly built around patterns, symmetry and logic, Bach’s music upon further exploration deviates constantly from the expected patterns, altering the rhythmic stress and creating something mysterious and unexpected.
Dinnerstein also draws parallels between the magical peculiarity in Bach’s music to the visual arts, and in particular realist painting. She says, “ ‘Strangeness in some proportion’ is what I like in all of the arts. My father is an artist and I grew up discussing this with him as it applies to the fine arts. I prefer Van Eyck’s mystical realism to Gerard David’s cold perfection. This certainly affects the way I want to play the piano. I have no interest in neatness and regularity as ends in themselves. I want to be able to create the effect of speech as much as possible, with all of its irregularities and minute fluctuations.”
For her first orchestral recording Simone is joined by members of one of Berlin’s most venerable institutions – Kammerorchester Staatskapelle Berlin, with Stephan Mai as concertmaster. Grammy-Award winning producer Adam Abeshouse, who produced Dinnerstein’s Goldberg Variations disc and her follow-up album The Berlin Concert, returns to recapture her distinctive sound on Bach: A Strange Beauty.