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Simone Dinnerstein Plays at Home In Park Slope

by Angela Sutton

(Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Park Slope came out to support its own Tuesday night at PS 321, where pianist (and Park Slope resident) Simone Dinnerstein gave a recital as part of the Neighborhood Classics series (which Ms. Dinnerstein also directs).  Ms. Dinnerstein initially grabbed national attention with her debut, self-funded recording of J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, and so it's not surprising that Bach figured prominently on last night's program.  She performed the entirety of Bach's first Partita and excerpts of the second, fleshing out the short, kid-friendly program with Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 27/2, and variations on Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne", written for her by composer Daniel Felsenfeld (also a Sloper.)

Ms. Dinnerstein performed all of these works on the slow side, creating clarity in the musical voices. But, in pieces that were slow to begin with, it also led to fussiness and a diffusion of rhythmic energy. The Nocturne, in particular, suffered, turning into treacle and losing both the simplicity of its outer sections and the storminess of its center.

Where the music supplied more movement, however, Ms. Dinnerstein was at her best.  The faster sections of the Bach partitas displayed her impeccable left-hand technique, with dance-derived rhythms bubbling up the keyboard. This is a much more difficult task than it appears, and I have tremendous respect for anyone that can pull off these extended Bach works in performance.

As the jig from the first Partita closed the concert, the hometown crowd warmly rewarded her with an extended ovation. For an artists who tours all over the world, Ms. Dinnerstein was no doubt happy to find herself within walking distance of home.