Pianist Simone Dinnerstein has a reputation for doing things his way. He began his career on the delayed side, not with a series of competition laurels, but with a self-financed recording of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" in 2007 which quickly became viral. At first glance, the Washington Performing Arts concert program at Kennedy Center on Thursday evening seemed like a strange juxtaposition of widely repetitive music. There was no interruption (only a short break in half), and Dinnerstein played practically everything without pause, each piece that followed the next.
Two pieces of the early eighteenth century by François Couperin have put the first half between brackets, wrapping "Arabeske" by Schumann and "Mad Rush" by Philip Glass in 1979. Then the enigmatic "Gnossienne No. 3" by Erik Satie preceded the most demanding of Schumann's pianos, "Kreisleriana."
Dinnerstein's stage mode is disarmingly unaltered, and once seated at the piano, his concentration becomes compelling. Its inebriating and velvety sound always maintains agility and translucency. He risks slow times that suspend time without sacrificing the musical thread, and when things overheat, the room seems ready to catch fire. Ultimately, it is the unconditional identification of Dinnerstein with every note that makes his performance so fascinating.
The vast architecture of "Mad Rush" by Glass has been crossed by a changing light, creating a hypnotic effect with a delicate symbiosis between the physical and the spiritual. The recurring affability in Schumann's "Arabeske" turned into agonizing anguish. It was in the confident intimacy of "Kreisleriana", however, that Dinnerstein's gifts had their most powerful power. Secrets of problems and joys, obsession and aspiration were imparted with rhetorical balance and rhythmic vigor. Schumann's famous "inner voices" flourished as psychological necessities.
Dinnerstein is an artist with surprisingly original ideas and irrefutable integrity. These attributes, combined with elegance and grace, lend her music, making her captivating beauty.