Best of 2020: Simone Dinnerstein

A Character of Quiet

Simone Dinnerstein, piano

Orange Mountain Music

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein has been playing Philip Glass’s music live for the past few years. Her interpretations, recorded on an Orange Mountain CD (Glass’s label) reveal dynamic subtleties and a romantic sensibility that creates a sense of vulnerability in the three etudes presented here; many others have focused on the motoric quality of their compositional processes. When I heard Glass play these pieces, he  suggested that an approach akin to that of Dinnerstein is correct. It is refreshing to hear a pianist with superlative technique play the etudes with such musicality.

Dinnerstein presents the Glass etudes alongside a watershed work of the early nineteenth century: Franz Schubert’s final piano sonata. Where Mitsoko Uchida emphasizes a poetic interpretation and Jeremy Denk the pathos of the piece, Dinnerstein imparts delicacy and subtle shifts of harmonic hues. Not that requisite power isn’t brought to bear when Schubert indicates forte passages. But in seeking “A Character of Quiet,” Dinnerstein’s  approach explores varieties of touch and resonance that give the sonata a valedictory quality entirely in keeping with its date of composition (1828, the year of the composer’s death). One of finest piano recordings of the year, it makes our Best of 2020 list.