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Simone Dinnerstein on KDFC: The State Of the Arts

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KDFC: State Of the Arts - Interview

Listen to KDFC: San Francisco - State Of the Arts, Jeff Weyr in conversation with Pianist Simone Dinnerstein.  Jeff's post below

Simone Dinnerstein has paired Ravel and Gershwin with a concerto written for her by Philip Lasser called The Circle and the Child on a new CD called Broadway-Lafayette. She says performingRhapsody in Blue is as close to playing in a jazz band as most classical musicians get, and one of the few occasions both soloist and orchestra members get to be happy at the same time.

There's clearly an exchange of influences between Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Ravel's Concerto in G Major... they share bits of American jazz and lush impressionist harmonies, with phenomenal parts for the soloist throughout. Simone Dinnerstein says putting them together makes sense: "It's so natural. I've performed the two of them in concert together quite a few times, and you really hear the link between the two of them.  Both played their own music, and that's something that people used to do – is that the composers played their own music, and therefore it was written in a certain kind of style." It starts with the crack of a whip, but Dinnerstein prefers the contemplative second movement to the pyrotechnic outer ones: "It's very reminiscent of Satie… and to me that's the best part of the piece, is the slow movement. I think it's just outstanding. It's like a long dream."

She included an earlier work by composer Philip Lasser on another CD, and a few years ago commissioned him to write her a piano concerto, which he's called The Circle and the Child. "It took him about two years to compose the piece, and he would show it to me as he was writing it, which was really great and exciting. And so I got to see it come to life, and change and develop... It was very much written for me. I think that all of the different values, and the writing… tonally, and  colors, the touch, the lyricism of it, the counterpoint in it, the way the piano and the orchestra interact… All of these things. It just feels like it was almost like a letter written to me. It's just an incredibly beautiful, deep piece of music, and I loved it so much that I really wanted to make a recording of it. And that's what sparked off the idea of this recording."