Stories » Simone Dinnerstein takes the US Billboard charts by storm in 'Bach: A Strange Beauty'

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Simone Dinnerstein takes the US Billboard charts by storm in 'Bach: A Strange Beauty'

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Simone Dinnerstein's first album on Sony Classical Bach: A Strange Beauty sees the pianist return to Bach, this time combining three transcriptions of his Chorale Preludes with one of his English Suites and two of his Keyboard Concerti.

Simone Dinnerstein's special affinity to the music of Bach was cemented when her self-funded recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations took the US Billboard charts by storm on its release in 2007. The album drew intense critical acclaim and Dinnerstein's unique playing garnered such impressive reviews as that from The New York Times "An utterly distinctive voice in the forest of Bach interpretation".

Her intense and expressive playing style as well as her individual approach to Bach's music is also revealed in her debut on Sony Classical. The mixed programme offers a range of sonorities and textures between the solo piano, piano with orchestra, the piano mimicking other instruments and even the piano evoking a soloist with orchestra, as it does at points in the English Suite.

The title Simone Dinnerstein has chosen for her album comes from a quote from the writer and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon about beauty: "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion". She feels this exemplifies the way she experiences Bach's music. Seemingly built around patterns, symmetry and logic, Bach's music on further delving, deviates constantly from the expected patterns, altering the rhythmic stress and creating something mysterious and unexpected.

Simone Dinnerstein also draws parallels between the magical peculiarity in Bach's music to the visual arts, and in particular realist painting. Simone Dinnerstein says: "‘Strangeness in some proportion' is what I like in all of the arts". "My father is an artist and I grew up discussing this with him as it applies to the fine arts. I prefer Van Eyck's mystical realism to Gerard David's cold perfection. This certainly affects the way I want to play the piano. I have no interest in neatness and regularity as ends in themselves. I want to be able to create the effect of speech as much as possible, with all of its irregularities and minute fluctuations."

For her first orchestral recording Simone is joined by members of one of Berlin's most venerable institutions – the Kammerorchester Staatskapelle Berlin, with Stephan Mai as concertmaster. Grammy-Award winning Adam Abeshouse, who was recording producer and engineer on Dinnerstein's Goldberg Variations disc and The Berlin Concert, returns to recapture her distinctive sound on "Bach: A Strange Beauty."

American pianist Simone Dinnerstein has been called "a throwback to such high priestesses of music as Wanda Landowska and Myra Hess," by Slate magazine, and praised by TIME for her "arresting freshness and subtlety." The New York-based pianist gained an international following because of the remarkable success of her recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, which she raised the funds to record. Released in 2007 on Telarc, it ranked No. 1 on the US Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many "Best of 2007" lists including those of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker. Her follow-up album, "The Berlin Concert," also gained the No. 1 spot on the Chart.

Ms. Dinnerstein's performance schedule has taken her around the world since her triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 2005, performing Bach's Goldberg Variations. Recent and upcoming performances include her recital debuts at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and London's Wigmore Hall, the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, the Aspen and Ravinia festivals, in Cologne, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Bremen, Rome, and Lisbon, and at the Stuttgart Bach Festival; as well as debut performances with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Kristjan Järvi's Absolute Ensemble, and the Tokyo Symphony. In New York she has performed on Lincoln Center's Great Performers series, and in three sold-out recitals at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is also a frequent performer at New York's (Le) Poisson Rouge, a club presenting all genres of music.

Ms. Dinnerstein has played concerts throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing classical music to non-traditional venues. Amongst the places she has played are nursing homes, schools and community centers. Most notably, she gave the first classical music performance in the Louisiana state prison system when she played at the Avoyelles Correctional Center. She also performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to coincide with her BSO debut.

In addition, Ms. Dinnerstein has founded Neighborhood Classics, a concert series open to the public and hosted by New York City public schools. The concerts, which feature musicians Ms. Dinnerstein has admired and collaborated with during her career, raise funds for the schools. Over the past few years, Ms. Dinnerstein has been featured in Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, Classic FM Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, "O" The Oprah Magazine, TIME, Slate, The Sunday (London) Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, among others, and has appeared on radio programs including BBC Radio 3's In Tune, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, NPR's Morning Edition, Public Radio International's Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, American Public Media's Performance Today, Minnesota Public Radio, XM Radio's Classical Confidential, as part of the news on SIRIUS Satellite Radio's The Howard Stern Show, and on national television in Germany.

Ms. Dinnerstein is a graduate of The Juilliard School where she was a student of Peter Serkin. She was a winner of the Astral Artist National Auditions, and has twice received the Classical Recording Foundation Award. She also studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music and in London with Maria Curcio. Simone Dinnerstein is managed by Tanja Dorn at IMG Artists.