Pianist Simone Dinnerstein’s genius is many-fold. A number of people are familiar with the dazzling verve of her playing–the nuanced phrasing, using dynamic range and timbre as Michelangelo used oils. There’s a reason why she plays to consistently packed venues like her Miller Theatre home at Columbia. Her scholarship and sheer scope are among her super powers, and she flexed them January 18, 2018 with her brilliant programming of birthday twins Philip Glass and Franz Schubert.
Separated by 140 years and two continents, Glass and Schubert both approach harmonies in very similar ways. Dinnerstein programmed pieces of each composer in two sinuous continuous parts– the first act was seven pieces, the second was five pieces, and each complimented one another as the proper wine opens flavors in food. The textures and nuances of combining pieces like the opening Glass–Metamorphosis One, followed by Schubert’s Impromptu One, then Glass’ Etude Six, and Impromptu Number Two, then Etude Number 16, seguing immediately into Impromptu Number Three, then Impromptu Number Four, is not like anything I’ve seen. Stylistically, the transcendental feel was the perfect remedy for the teeming traffic of a Thursday in NYC, and shoulder to shoulder in the audience, many of us were breathless. Alternately closing my eyes to savor the sounds and opening them to watch Dinnerstein’s technique, every harmonic change and every contrast of Schubert’s work and Glass’ work is a call and response of philosophical conversation.
Schubert passed when he was only 31, so who knows what his work would have done to influence the classical canon had he lived Glass’ currently eight decades. Glass’ work is audibly influenced by the Romantics and the lushness of expression in Schubert is lush in a different way in Glass–post Modern lushness has a more sere feel.
The second act featured Glass’ Etude Number Two and gave us a Schubertiad finale with Sonata in B-flat major, D. 960. With the Molto moderato, Andante sostenuto, Scherzo: Allegro vivace con delicatezza and the energetically driven Allegro mon troppo, the flow of the second act was as brilliant and different from the first. The first act was rainy day thoughtful philosophical flow, while the second act provided a very different tasty contrast between these two composers. It turns out that a century and a half in music is not as long as one might think. A friend whom I introduced to Dinnerstein’s work felt the impact of the energy rolling from the stage. Now she’s searching for other works and albums and I am personally hopeful that Dinnerstein records this musical poetry to extend this vitality to a greater audience than the Miller Theatre’s capacity can accommodate.
for tickets! Get a taste now, there’s still a lot of season to come!