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Simone Dinnerstein's Berlin Philharmonie Recital: A Triumph of Splendid Musicianship
on August 26, 2008
Barely more than six months after Simone Dinnerstein's triumphant debut at the Berlin Philharmonie - the modern concert hall which is the official residence of the Berliner Philharmoniker - Telarc has issued her sophomore recording, "The Berlin Concert", and one which is bound to please her ever growing legion of fans (of which I am now one). In a performance that is approximately an hour and fifteen minutes in length, Dinnerstein offers some fascinating insights into works composed across the span of three centuries by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and contemporary American composer Philip Lasser, playing each as though they were being heard by the audience for the very first time. What unites these works by these three different composers is their joyful spontaneity and tendency towards almost jazz-like improvisation; Bach's French Suite No. 5 in G major, Lasser's Twelve Variations on a Chorale by J. S. Bach "Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott" (Cantata 101), and Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111. In her performance of the Bach French Suite, Dinnerstein emphasizes - as she notes in the liner notes - its exquisite dance rhythms and spontaneity. In Lasser's work, her playing, while also sounding spontaneous, ranges from Bach's "contrapuntal energy" to brief nods to both French Impressionism and jazz too. As for jazz itself, Dinnerstein's performance of the final Beethoven piano sonata's second movement is light years removed from the elegant simplicity of, say, Alfred Brendel; hers is one which, unlike others I have heard either live or on recordings, truly emphasizes the improvisational, almost jazz-like, qualities of this very movement (Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile). It is still a quite compelling interpretation that holds its own against the likes of Brendel and Uchida, among others. A brief encore, Bach's Goldberg Variations: Variation 13, concludes this most remarkable recording. If anyone has doubted whether Simone Dinnerstein is a first-rate concert pianist, then this exhilarating live recording should dispel such doubts.