Guest DJ: Simone Dinnerstein

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein has a passion for rhythmically free musical lines.

hide captionPianist Simone Dinnerstein has a passion for rhythmically free musical lines.

Lisa Marie Mazzucco/Courtesy of the artist

Simone Dinnerstein is an introvert, an extrovert and a risk taker all rolled up into one pretty amazing pianist.

"My husband thinks I'm a gambler," she admits to me in the studio, as we get ready to spin some of her favorite records. "If there's an option that's a little crazy but could work incredibly well, I will take that option."

Dinnerstein's biggest gamble came a few years back when she decided to self-finance and produce her own recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. Few, even in the classical world, knew her name at the time, but the Goldbergs changed all that. The recording became a popular and critical success and suddenly a major career was launched at the remarkably advanced age of 35.

"It was very unexpected and I still haven't quite gotten over it and still don't understand exactly what has happened," Dinnerstein says, in a soft, thoughtful voice.

Since then she's a pianist in demand. She signed a handsome record deal with Sony Classical and her concerts are routinely praised in terms of intellect and technique. Here's Washington Post critic Robert Battey, reviewing her Washington recital last week: "Her sound, while varied and colorful, has a trancelike quality. The imagination, particularly in slow music, is extraordinary. The Lisztian anguish in the Sarabande of Bach's English Suite No. 3 seemed to invoke all human experience."

Dinnerstein admits to playing Bach close to her own personality: "inward-looking, meditative and rhythmically free." She says the way people play music is a lot like they are themselves as people.

"I tend to be introspective," she says. "I tend to like music that is sensitive, slow and I like stuff that's kind of dreamy."

Dinnerstein's also drawn to musicians who pursue her own aesthetic, especially those rhythmically free ones who are not afraid to tug on the musical line — expanding or contracting it — as a means of expression. You'll hear this in the broad range of recordings she chooses in this guest DJ session, from conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler to mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson to singer-songwriter Tift Merritt.

Feel free to leave your thoughts about Dinnerstein and her favorite music in the comments section.

Guest DJ: Simone Dinnerstein

Cover art for Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, starring Kirsten Flagstad.

'Dido's Lament' (Kirsten Flagstad, soprano)

  • Artist: Geraint Jones
  • Album: Purcell: Dido and Aeneas
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Purcell: Dido and Aeneas"
  • Album: Dido and Aeneas
  • Artist: Kirsten Flagstad
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • Released: 1987
 
Cover art for Bach Cantatas with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

'Ich Habe Genug'

  • Artist: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
  • Album: Bach: Cantatas BWV 82 and 199
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Aria from Cantata No. 82, 'Ich Habe Genug,' BWV 82"
  • Album: Bach: Cantatas BWV 82 and 199
  • Artist: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
  • Label: Nonesuch
 
Cover art for The Schubert Album by Renee Fleming.

'Nacht und Traume'

  • Artist: Renée Fleming
  • Album: The Schubert Album
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Nacht und Träume (Heil'ge Nacht, du sinkest nieder!"), song for voice & piano, D. 827 (Op. 43/2)"
  • Album: The Schubert Album
  • Artist: Renée Fleming
  • Label: London
  • Released: 1997
 
Cover art for Yehudi Menuhin plays Beethoven.

Beethoven: Violin Concerto - 'Allegro,' (excerpt)

  • Artist: Sir Yehudi Menuhin
  • Album: Beethoven/Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61"
  • Album: Beethoven/Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
  • Artist: Sir Yehudi Menuhin
  • Label: EMI
 
Album cover for Calliope.

Bransle Simple (16th C. French dance)

  • Artist: Calliope
  • Album: Calliope Dances: A Renaissance Revel
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Bransle Simple"
  • Album: Bransle Simple
  • Artist: Calliope
  • Label: Elektra/Nonesuch
  • Released: 2011
 
Cover art for Judy Collins' album In My Life.

'Suzanne'

  • Artist: Judy Collins
  • Album: In My Life
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Suzanne"
  • Album: In My Life
  • Artist: Judy Collins
  • Label: Asylum
  • Released: 1966
 
Cover art for Tift Merritt's album See You on the Moon.

'Feel of the World'

  • Artist: Tift Merritt
  • Album: See You On The Moon
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Feel of the World"
  • Album: See You On The Moon
  • Artist: Tift Merritt
  • Label: Fantasy
  • Released: 2010
 

Featured Artist

Purchase Featured Music

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: Purcell: Dido and Aeneas
  • Artist: Geraint Jones
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • Released: 2008
 

Bach: Cantatas BWV 82 and 199

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: Bach: Cantatas BWV 82 and 199
  • Artist: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
  • Label: Nonesuch
 

The Schubert Album

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: The Schubert Album
  • Artist: Renée Fleming
  • Label: London
  • Released: 1997
 

Beethoven/Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: Beethoven/Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
  • Artist: Sir Yehudi Menuhin
  • Label: EMI
 

In My Life

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: In My Life
  • Artist: Judy Collins
  • Label: Asylum
  • Released: 1966
 

See You On The Moon

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: See You On The Moon
  • Artist: Tift Merritt
  • Label: Fantasy
  • Released: 2010
 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.