Dinnerstein's Goldberg Variations was recorded in the neoclassic auditorium of the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York in March 2005. The piano she plays, a 1903 Hamburg Steinway model D concert grand, was originally owned by the town council of Hull,
This is destined to be one of the best-remembered and significant classical releases of 2007. Simone (pronounced "See-mo-nuh") Dinnerstein has recently been attracting lots of media attention, from Oprahs magazine to The New York Times
. Within a classical-music circuit increasingly unwilling to take artistic risks, hers has been the rare success story. The 30-something pianist (a former student of Peter Serkin), backing herself, wowed critics with some notable concerts and eventually secured the support of a major label to release a self-produced recording Dinnerstein had made in March 2005. This Telarc account of the Goldberg Variations
thus marks her solo debut CD (following some earlier collaborations with cellist Zuill Bailey on the Delos label). For once, the publicity is trying to keep up with the musical achievement--rather than the other way around.
Dinnerstein's seriousness of purpose is immediately obvious from her choice of the Bach masterpiece to make her mark. With the specter of Glenn Gould's own epoch-making 1955 debut playing the same worknot to mention a vast catalog of competing interpretationsDinnerstein is nothing if not bold. But what's really extraordinary here is the liberating sense she conveys of its not having all been said beforewithout resorting to tiresome idiosyncrasies to stand apart from the crowd. Her remarkably deliberate way with the opening aria is unusual, to be sure. But it establishes the stakes for what will follow, where Dinnerstein's thoughtfulness and spectacular clarity seem to discover new facets at every turn. Her pianism embraces a prismatic array of touches, whether the feathery lightness of Variation 5, the burbling rhythms of Variation 14, or the tragic weight of the "black pearl" Variation 25. The cumulative effect is exhilarating, intensely moving, and an affirmation of the Goldbergs' infinite variety. --Thomas May