Simone Dinnerstein (THAT one, yes) is doing a Glass interview! Wow!
Simone, the lady that made a self-financed CD of the Bach Goldberg Variations and managed to eventually garner critical acclaim from the NY Times, LA Times, The New Yorker, and have a brilliant career as a concert pianist is giving some time to this still budding publication. Still need a pinch.
The new CD, Something Almost Being Said, is her newly-recorded collection of music by Bach (by now her trademark) and Schubert. Simone talks a bit about the record, Tift Merritt, correctional facilities, and that damn iPhone.
CM: Simone, can you talk about the new CD and the connection between the music and the poem from which its title comes from?
SD: I chose the works on the CD because I felt that they all had a sense of narrative in common. Though they are instrumental works, they have the quality of speech, or of song, and yet without words. I was looking for a title that could convey this idea, and so I turned to poetry. My husband suggested that I read Philip Larkin’s poem, The Trees. The opening lines perfectly evoked the music.
CM: I had seen you a few years back at LPR, and that was such a wonderful show where you played Bach on a piano in the middle of the room (like a theater in the round). Do you prefer smaller venues like that or the recital hall scenarios?
SD: I like lots of different types of venues. So many aspects of a venue affect the feeling of the concert: the acoustics, the piano, the proximity of the audience, the physical shape of the room. It would be hard for me to give one definitive answer.
CM: There is a clip of you performing for some inmates at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. Can you talk about how that came to be and what it was like?
SD: I was in Baltimore for the week, performing with the Baltimore Symphony. The symphony’s administration asked if I might be interested in performing a short recital at the correctional facility, since they had read that I had done this once before in Louisiana. It was a truly beautiful experience, and definitely one of the highlights of my performing career. The women’s reaction was completely different than from what I had expected. They were completely open to the music, very emotional and communicative. They shared their stories of their children’s musical studies and of their own musical backgrounds. I learned a lot from the experience.
Bach: Goldberg Variations (excerpts; Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, Jessup, MD; 10/23/09)
CM: You have been making some interesting collaborative work for some time now with Tift Merritt. Will there be more of that with her?
SD: Tift and I will be recording this summer! We are very excited! This is one of the most interesting projects I’ve done so far, and it has really pushed me out of my own small, classical world. We are both interpreting the music from our personal aesthetic idea of the music, as opposed to focusing on conventions of style. I hope to do more of this type of collaborative work in the future.
CM: I have to tell you that the promo clip for your EPK is so beautiful with you and your family! What was this experience like for all of you to do a music video?
SD: It was a lot of fun! Tristan Cooke, the director, had a very clear vision of what he wanted. I gave him various ideas, locations and themes, but he came up with all of the scenes and how they were choreographed. I was very proud of how well my son dealt with having a camera pointing at him. He was so natural, just as he is in real life.
Promo for Something Almost Being Said
CM: This thing that happened in NY recently with an iPhone at the NY Phil is a cause celebre that has everyone on edge all over again about devices being brought to concerts. Can you talk about how you would handle that situation if it happened at your show?
SD: It happens all the time. In fact it happened recently when I was giving a recital in New York, right between movements in a partita. I felt sorry for the owner of the phone, who I’m sure felt terrible. But it is a real challenge when it happens because it breaks your train of thought. When you’re performing, you are so completely in another world that it is quite jarring when that spell is broken.
Schubert: Impromptu #2 in E-Flat Major, D.899 (Op. 90; Live at KDFC; Feb 2011)
Samples from the new CD (You can purchase it on iTunes as well)
Simone’s official website