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From Brooklyn To Berlin

20 AUG 08 VIVIEN SCHWEITZER

Simone Dinnerstein's Telarc recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations propelled the then relatively unknown Brooklyn-based pianist into the classical limelight (and the charts) last year. The Berlin Concert, her second CD on the label, will surely make sure she stays there.

This live recording of her recital debut at the Berlin Philharmonie last November opens with a glowing performance of Bach's French suite No. 5, in which Dinnerstein vividly transmits the vigor of the joyous dance rhythms. The disc continues with a electric rendition of Philip Lasser's "Twelve Variations on a Chorale by J.S. Bach," based on the somber "Nimm von uns, Herr du treuer Gott" ("Take from us, Lord, Thou faithful God"). The variations traverse an eclectic range of styles and moods, from the almost jazzy No. 3, the meditative No. 4, the whirlwind No. 6 and the dissonant Presto of No. 10.

Beethoven's Op. 111, written when the composer was completely deaf, both looks back to Bach and ahead to Liszt. Dinnerstein offers a powerful reading of this tumultuous work (the composer's last piano sonata), from the tortured dissonances of the first movement to the resigned introspection of the opening moments of the Arietta.

Dinnerstein's performance certainly merits the many bravos from the Berlin audience. As an encore, she rewards them with Variation No. 13 from the Goldberg Variations. The free download of Variation No. 28 from her debut CD is still available, so check it out.