Beyond the Goldbergs
Glenn Gould may set the gold standard for performing the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach, but his is not, by any means the last word, at least not in Simone Dinnerstein’s mind.
One recording, Dinnerstein said that “made a deep impression on me was (by) jazz pianist Jacques Loussier, with his trio. It made me realise that you could play extremely freely and keep uncovering different aspects of Bach’s music.”
She had been paying the bills by playing gigs at retirement communities, but managed to arrange her New York debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2005. A lot was riding on that performance of the Goldberg Variations with critics and reviewers from all over would be in the sold-out house for her performance.
She would soon be able to pull together funding to allow her to self-produce a recording of the hour-long work. Upon hearing her recording one critic, David Patrick Stearns, of The Philadelphia Inquirer, took it upon himself to send it to Robert Woods, president of Telarc.
Now, when music lovers speak of benchmark interpretations of the Goldberg Variations, Dinnerstein’s name is mentioned alongside that of Gould. For that reason, her recording outsold Bruce Springsteen on Amazon.com for what she called “a few surreal hours.”
Her success has allowed her the freedom to explore music in a way she might never otherwise have.
Dinnerstein recently released a recording with singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, a collaboration summed up in comments from each of them.
“I love the idea that a song by Billie Holiday can speak to a song by Purcell, and that each one can influence the way we hear the other,”
Simone Dinnerstein performs Only in Songs/Night and Dreams from the recording Night by Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein (above) and discusses her collaboration with Tift Merritt, below.
“True collaboration is that willingness to extend yourself to a new place but in a way that does not feel like anything has been given up,” Merritt said.
Watch: Simone Dinnerstein perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations