Live From VPR: Pianist Simone Dinnerstein

Mar 31, 2017

World-renowned pianist Simone Dinnerstein sat down with VPR's Walter Parker for a live performance from VPR's Studio One to debut VPR's new Steinway concert grand piano.

Dinnerstein performed works from Philip Glass and Franz Schubert, and discussed working with young musicians and selecting the right instrument.

Click here to listen to the full performance.

The right instrument

Dinnerstein was among those that travel to New York to select VPR's new Steinway concert grand piano.

Dinnerstein told VPR's Walter Parker what she looks for when selecting an instrument:

"I often look first and foremost for the piano that feels the best to me because the sound of the piano can often be worked on by the piano technician and adjusted in numerous ways," she explained, "but the feel of it is harder to adjust. So I like pianos that are very light to play.

"I [prefer] a very quick action and in general, I like pianos that have a very clear sound and they don't have too much personality," said Dinnerstein. "I like to have my own personality come through and sometimes pianos have a dominating personality that can be difficult to work with."

Pairing Schubert and Glass

Dinnerstein's program for the event paired three pieces by Philip Glass with three of Franz Schubert's works.

Dinnerstein says the pairing started as a hunch that the two composers had more in common in their work than one might expect:
"The music of Philip Glass and Schubert felt like they had quite a lot in common," she explained. "I wasn't sure if I was right about that, so I listened to all of Philip Glass, his piano music, and sure enough found quite a number of pieces which I thought were particularly Schubertian."

"They both are composers who were very interested in patterns," Dinnerstein said. "And in a very subtle use of harmony, where just the change of one chord can effect the entire mood of a phrase. And both composers are very lyrical; [they] have written quite a lot for the voice and that imbues their instrumental writing as well."

Working with young musicians

Dinnerstein says teaching and working with school-age children is an important part of her life.

"I have done quite a few performances now with different youth orchestras, which I really enjoy," said Dinnerstein. "Last summer, I was at Tanglewood playing with the [Boston University Tanglewood Institute] orchestra and actually my most recent recording, which will be coming out in April, I recorded last summer in Havana with their Youth Orchestra ... [T]hat was really one of the most special collaborative experiences I think I have ever had."

Full Performance

Listen in Soundcloud.