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Pianist takes juxtaposition to varied extremes

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will meld the music of Phillip Glass and Franz Schubert. (Courtesy of Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will meld the music of Phillip Glass and Franz Schubert. (Courtesy of Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Noted pianist Simone Dinnerstein is asking her May 8 concert audience to keep their minds, and their ears, open.

For the program, Dinnerstein will meld music by two famous composers – Philip Glass, a living American minimalist, and Franz Schubert, who died in 1828.

Each half of the Chamber Music Albuquerque concert has its own title.

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The first half is “Seven Pieces.”

“I play continuously, going back and forth between Glass and Schubert,” Dinnerstein said in a phone interview. “It’s a kind of suite.”

It features “Metamorphosis One” by Glass plus four impromptus and two etudes by Schubert.

For the second half of the program, called “Five Pieces,” she will play a Glass etude and the four movements of a Schubert sonata.

“I think there’s a really interesting, thought-provoking connection between Schubert’s and Glass’ music. Both have a lot of elements in common, patterns, using harmony in a particularly expressive way,” Dinnerstein said.

“Schubert will often have these kinds of modulations, harmonics that are surprising. In my mind, he is looking ahead toward 20th century popular music.”

And she thinks Glass likes the element of surprise.

Dinnerstein will introduce her own surprises by changing a particular harmonic progression. She wants the audience to hear how that alters the balance of the phrasing and the expression.

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She finds that the compositions of Glass and Schubert are extremely lyrical, expressive and spare.

“I want to be able to bring out these connections but I also didn’t want the listeners to be overly analytical about it. I want them to have a kind of intuitive and visceral response to the music,” Dinnerstein said.

She always gives a lot of thought to her concert programs, but this is the first time, she said, that she has ever done something quite like this.

Dinnerstein is known for being an individualistic interpreter of J.S. Bach. She has recorded three CDs of his music.

But she has also ventured into other territory. She has collaborated with singer-songwriter Tift Merritt on music that brings together classical, folk and rock.

Her latest album features music of Maurice Ravel and French-American composer Philip Lasser.

Dinnerstein said Glass is currently composing a concerto for her that will premiere in about a year. He’s writing it to be paired with a Bach keyboard concerto.

Dinnerstein’s next recording project will be of two Mozart piano concertos with a Cuban youth orchestra in Havana.

“I performed with them a year ago. I’m excited about the music scene in Havana,” she said.


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