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Simone Dinnerstein Releases Richard Danielpour's An American Mosaic

Cover: Undergound, Together by Harvey Dinnerstein

On March 26, 2021, approximately one year after the first COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns in the U.S., pianist Simone Dinnerstein’s recording of An American Mosaic by composer Richard Danielpour will be released on Supertrain Records. An American Mosaic is a set of fifteen miniatures, each commemorating a segment of the American population that has been affected by the pandemic – doctors, parents, children, front line workers, caretakers, and those who have lost their lives to the virus. The album also includes transcriptions by Danielpour for Dinnerstein of J.S. Bach’s “Agnus Dei” from the Mass in B minor, as well as “Wenn Ich einmal soll scheiden” and “Epilogue Chorus: Wir setzen, uns mit Tränen nieder,” from the St. Matthew Passion.

An American Mosaic was commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival and was premiered by Dinnerstein online on December 6, 2020 in a virtual concert for OBF from her home in Brooklyn. This album, produced and engineered by Grammy-winner Adam Abeshouse, is the recording of that performance.

An American Mosaic was born out of both Danielpour’s anxiety and insomnia early in the pandemic, and his desire to write a piano work intended to give comfort to those suffering. “The only thing that was able to relax me enough to sleep (no amount of medication would do the trick) was listening to Simone Dinnerstein’s Bach recordings,” he said. In May, he contacted Dinnerstein about the piece he intended to write. Danielpour, from Los Angeles, and Dinnerstein, from New York, embarked on this collaboration in summer and fall 2020, and discussed, prepared, and rehearsed the piece entirely via email, phone, and Zoom.

“Last spring, out of the blue, I received a phone call from Richard Danielpour,” Dinnerstein recalled. “He told me how my Bach recordings had helped him through those first difficult months of the pandemic. To know that my music had touched a fellow musician 3,000 miles away during that period of isolation was extremely meaningful to me. When Richard told me about his idea for An American Mosaic, I was honored and thrilled that he asked if he could share it with me. Spending the late summer and fall learning his language and digging deeply into the rich tapestry of this work was a transporting experience.”

Danielpour hopes that his work will bring solace to those who hear it. “Whether they are caretakers and research physicians, parents and children, rabbis and ministers, doctors and interns, or teachers and students, these individuals are the face of America,” he said. “They comprise a mosaic of heroes that we will never forget. The 14th movement is titled ‘Prophets & Martyrs’ and is dedicated to the Black lives lost during this pandemic. There is also a movement titled ‘The Invisible Enemy’ about the virus itself and another one titled ‘The Visible Enemy’ which refers to the Trump administration that existed between 2017 and 2020 in Washington. I believe that the passage of time will reveal those four years to be one of the darkest periods in our American history. It is ultimately my hope that the recording of this work and of the Bach transcriptions brings solace, healing, and comfort to those who have suffered and struggled in these terrible times.”

An American Mosaic follows Dinnerstein’s September 2020 album, A Character of Quiet, which she recorded over the course of two evenings at her home in Brooklyn in June 2020, during the quiet of the New York City lockdown, also with Abeshouse. The album, which 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, reached the number one spot on the Billboard Classical Chart, and was described by NPR as, “music that speaks to a sense of the world slowing down,” and by The New Yorker as, “a reminder that quiet can contain multitudes.”

This album follows Danielpour’s March 2020 release The Passion of Yeshua, currently nominated for three 2021 Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Choral Performance, and Best Engineered Album. The dramatic oratorio is an intensely personal telling of the final hours of Christ on Earth and stresses the need for human compassion and forgiveness.

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