Tonight at 8 PM in the Lang Concert Hall, the renowned pianist Simone Dinnerstein will give a recital of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The Goldberg Variations is a piece that has become one of Dinnerstein’s specialties and which she has recorded for Telearc, a major classical music label.
“Gerry Levinson [the chair of the Music Department] . . . told me about [Dinnerstein’s performance] last semester and I got really excited. It’s so cool that she’s playing here – I hope a lot of my friends get to hear her,” said Sophie Hagen ’10, who is a former student of Dinnerstein. According to Geoffrey Peterson, the concert manager for her appearance, Levinson has known Dinnerstein for several years and “it was originally his idea to invite Simone to play a concert at Swarthmore.”
To have such a well known pianist perform at Swarthmore is a special thing indeed, but Dinnerstein has become even more well known since her Swarthmore engagement was planned. “About a month ago an article came out about her on the front page of the New York Times Arts section, and then her sales on Amazon shot up, and she’s been getting all this publicity,” said Hagen.
That article notes that Dinnerstein’s career has not followed what is expected from a big-name pianist: she didn’t start having lessons at a very young age, and her parents often thwarted her efforts to get a serious musical education. A watershed moment in her career was a recital in Carnegie Hall in 2005 of the Goldberg Variations, which the New York Times called “an individual, compelling performance.” Her interpretation also utilizes “a level of coloration” possible on the contemporary piano that was not possible on the harpsichord of Bach’s era. Since that recital she has released the recording and now has concert engagements in London, Paris, and Berlin.
Dinnerstein also gave a master class yesterday for Swarthmore pianists Mark Loria ’08 and Hagen. Hagen played Chopin’s Impromptu no. 2 in F sharp major. Loria played five of the nine movements to George Crumb’s “Eine Kleine Mitternactmusik (A Little Midnight Music): Ruminations on a Theme by Thelonious Monk.” Dinnerstein premiered the piece in Philadelphia several years ago and used her experience with the piece to help Loria bring out what she called the “fantastical” elements of the music.