Simone Dinnerstein, Something Almost Being Said: Music of Bach and Schubert

Seth Colter Walls

By Seth Colter Walls

on 01.31.12 in Reviews

Something Almost Being Said: Music of Bach and Schubert

Simone Dinnerstein

One of the knocks against outta-left-field, Bach-loving piano phenom Simone Dinnerstein is that her take on the composer is too Romantic. Most people likely know how they come down on her Bach at this point – so what’s most interesting here is the inclusion of Schubert’s first series of Impromptus (which sit next to a couple of Bach Partitas). Those Schubert entries, written late in the life of a composer who sits more or less at the first blush of the Romantic era, do seem a natural choice for Dinnerstein’s gifts.

A natural choice for Dinnerstein’s gifts

But if you thought she’d be looking to hedge or hide some of her interpretive tendencies in Romantic repertoire, you’d be wrong. From the opening of No. 1 in C Minor, she instantly features her instinctual, radical recourse to rubato. It’s a doubling down. At nearly 12 minutes, her take is well over a minute longer than standard-bearer recordings by Schiff and Perahia (not to mention last year’s entry from Paul Lewis). It’s a daring approach, and persuasive in no small measure due to the engineering on this recording: By catching the piano’s low end, it gives the enterprise a grounded sense even when Dinnerstein engages in her wait-for-it style of teasing. This isn’t a recording that overwhelms the historical competition in Schubert (what, you don’t have the Perahia? Get it!), but it is a bracing new way to hear those first Impromptus.