Listen New Classical Tracks: Simone Dinnerstein
Listen New Classical Tracks: Simone Dinnerstein (extended)
Simone Dinnerstein & A Far Cry — Circles: Piano Concertos by Bach & Glass (Orange Mountain Music)
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein treasures the music of Bach. On her latest recording, Circles, she carefully pairs Bach's Keyboard Concerto No. 7 in G minor with a new work written just for her by Philip Glass, his Piano Concerto No. 3.
"It's an unusual concerto because, though it's in a minor key, it's a very joyful piece of music. And I like that twist to it. And I think that Glass can have that in his music too. So it was my instinct that him knowing that it would be with a minor key concerto would be interesting."
It is interesting, and it sets the stage for the concept of Circles.
"Bach's music and Glass's music is very circular. The whole notion of the patterns coming back to themselves, and in the Glass Concerto the third movement ending in this quiet, quiet place, which is almost where the beginning of the piece started from, is something that's interesting to me — how the music comes back on itself.
"And then when we recorded it and even when we performed it, we took the lid off the piano and had it facing the orchestra. So the orchestra formed a semicircle around me with the violins playing antiphonally on either side of me. And that enabled us to really look at each other, everybody could look at me, I could see everyone, they could see each other and we could all hear each other very well with the piano right at the heart of it. We formed a circle, and it was really a wonderful way of communicating with everyone."
What does it feel like to know that someone has created a work specifically with you in mind?
"You know, I was excited enough that he wanted to write something for me, and then I was thrilled that we were able to make it a concerto. But when I finally received this piece and played it for the first time at home, I just couldn't believe it. I mean it was way beyond what I had imagined. The qualities in the piece are so suited to my playing. And he told me that he had really thought of that."
I know the first movement, at least to my ear, has kind of a wistful quality, yet it's very inviting. I thought the way the first movement is put together really draws you in. Do you feel that way as well?
"That's a good way to put it, that it's inviting. I mean it starts with a piano alone and then the cellos enter and then the bass and then the rest of the strings. So, there's this kind of a gradual easing into the sound. And there's an undulating quality that's running through the whole movement. Whole parts of it remind me of Faure. It has that kind of quality, sort of translucent, Sunday afternoon.
"There's a tremendously loud part in the second movement. I'm playing by myself, and then everybody joins in. But the strings are playing these arpeggios together, but they sound almost like some kind of electronic organ together, not like strings anymore. It's an amazing sound, it's almost like Emerson Lake and Palmer, that kind of sound, you know, it's great.
"I've been finding it very freeing, playing his music. There's something about it that allows me to be much more open to the moment, and I feel like that is affecting how I play other music in performance. So, I really feel thankful to his music for showing me that."
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.