Simone Dinnerstein All Ages Critic's Choice Soundboard

When: Mon., Aug. 25, 8 p.m. 2008

In 2001 Simone Dinnerstein was a little-known pianist and teacher living in Brooklyn; she’d excelled at Juilliard, but she was in her late 20s and knew she was running out of time to establish herself. While pregnant with her son, now six, she decided to learn Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations—about 90 minutes long in her rendition—and after his birth began performing it. Using money raised with the help of friends, she made a professional recording of the piece in March 2005, which she sent to agents; she then produced her own Carnegie Hall recital in November so they could hear her. The results were phenomenal. Telarc released the CD in August 2007, and it debuted at number one on Billboard’s traditional classical chart. Now 35, Dinnerstein is concertizing internationally and has a new disc coming out this week. What sets her Goldberg apart is her poetic and contemplative approach. She gives the serene opening aria an otherworldly quality, and on many of the slower variations she plays with a Zen-like calmness that would feel a little sleepy if it weren’t for her precision and elegance—she has a delicate touch, makes judicious use of pedal, and ornaments the music exquisitely. Her bravura performances on the faster movements provide wonderful contrasts and demonstrate more of her wide range. Tonight Dinnerstein will perform the Goldberg Variations and George Crumb’s “Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik,” inspired by Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight.” —Barbara Yaross

Price: $10-$40

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