Simone Dinnerstein Releases Album A Character of Quiet, Featuring Works by Schubert and Glass
On Friday, September 18, 2020, American pianist Simone Dinnerstein releases her next album, A Character of Quiet, on Orange Mountain Music. The album includes Philip Glass’s Etudes No. 16, No. 6 and No. 2 paired with Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960. Dinnerstein recorded it over the course of two evenings at her home in Brooklyn in June 2020, during the quiet of the New York City lockdown, with her longtime producer and friend Adam Abeshouse. Known internationally for her concerts and recordings (among others, her widely celebrated recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations), Simone Dinnerstein is also the pianist for whom Philip Glass composed his Piano Concerto No.3 in 2017, which was released the following year by Orange Mountain Music on the album Circles – Piano Concertos by Bach and Glass.
Watch Excerpts from the Album:
Dinnerstein writes, “My experience of the pandemic was hardly unique in that it dramatically restricted my world. My son came back from London. My husband started working from home. All of my travel and concerts were cancelled. Time seemed to stop. I felt very lucky to be able to stay in one place with my family but, candidly, lockdown did not make me feel creative or productive. It made me anxious and enervated. Indeed, for two months I think I barely touched the piano. Music did not seem like an adequate response to everything that was happening in the world. Instead I read Wordsworth and Melville and went for walks in Green-Wood, the historic cemetery on my doorstep.” The pieces by Glass and Schubert that Dinnerstein chose to record are works she has performed frequently over the past several years. The Washington Post wrote of her performance at Wolf Trap, “Schubert revels in tone color, this piece in particular, and in Dinnerstein’s hands an astonishing richness of opulence, brilliance, muted hues and quiet clarity spoke eloquently and moved inevitably in an intense and moving performance.” Of her concert at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, the San Francisco Classical Voice remarked, “To conceive of the repetitions characteristic of Glass’s work as mechanized is tempting. Yet each of Dinnerstein’s returns to these phrases, as well as their analogues in the Schubert, seemed organic, even unexpected, as fluid as breathing.” Dinnerstein writes in her notes for this album about the similarities between the two composers, and their relevance to her making this album during this time: “I love their pared down quality, their economy, their ability to change everything by changing just one note in a chord. Their asceticism suited the moment. But there is a sensual element in both, too, because the human voice is central to Glass and Schubert’s sound worlds. They both create a feeling of a solitary journey, a sense of time being trapped through repeated vision and revision as the music tries to work itself to a conclusion. This all spoke to the way I was feeling.” The album’s title comes from William Wordsworth’s “The Prelude,” a poem Dinnerstein had been reading during the lockdown, which refers to, “A character of quiet more profound than pathless wastes.” It was producer Adam Abeshouse who convinced Dinnerstein to return to playing again, after her time away from the piano during the beginning of the pandemic. He wondered if this had led her to new places, artistically. She now feels it did. “Perhaps I had been parted too long from my better self by the hurrying world, as Wordsworth puts it,” Dinnerstein says. “The qualities that I now found most essential to the music were the most quiet, the most nuanced, the most private. Those were the qualities that seemed important as I played for myself in my own room while Adam recorded. I hope that the listener will feel them too.”