The pianist Simone Dinnerstein has a reputation for doing things in her own way. She began her career late, not with a stack of laurels in the competition, but with a self-financed recording of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" in 2007, which quickly became viral. At first glance, the program of his Washington Performing Arts concert at the Kennedy Center on Thursday night seemed like a strange juxtaposition of largely repetitive music. There was no intermission (only a brief pause mid-way) and Dinnerstein played virtually uninterrupted, with each piece slipping into the next.
Two works by François Couperin from the early eighteenth century frame the first half, encompassing Schumann's "Arabeske" and Philip Glass's "Mad Rush" from 1979. The enigmatic "Gnossienne No. 3" by Erik Satie has preceded the most difficult of Schumann's piano cycles, "Kreisleriana. "
Dinnerstein's way on the stage is not disarmingly affected and once seated at the piano, his concentration becomes captivating. Its velvety sound of intoxicating richness still retains its agility and translucency. It risks slow tempos that suspend time without sacrificing the music wire, and when the situation warms up, the room seems ready to explode. In the end, it is the unreserved identification of Dinnerstein with each note played that makes his performance so haunting.
The vast architecture of Glass's "Mad Rush" has been traversed by a changing light, creating a hypnotic effect with a delicate symbiosis of the physical and the spiritual. The recurring affability in Schumann's "Arabeske" evolved into an anguished desire. It is, however, in the confident intimacy of "Kreisleriana" that Dinnerstein's gifts have exercised their most powerful influence. The secrets of annoyances and joys, of obsession and aspirations were marked by rhetorical coolness and rhythmic vigor. The famous "inner voices" of Schumann have flourished as psychological necessities.
Dinnerstein is an artist with original ideas and irrefutable integrity. These attributes, combined with elegance and grace, give her music a captivating beauty.