Round Tones: Pianist Simone Dinnerstein Discusses Her Recording 'Circles'

Dec 4, 2018

“I think that he’s kind of like the grandfather of it all.”

That’s what pianist Simone Dinnerstein says about Bach, a composer for whose music she has a particular affinity.

In her most recent recording, Circles, Dinnerstein pairs Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 7 in G minor, BWV 1058 with a new concerto composed for her, Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto No. 3. Although Bach’s much earlier music and Glass’ very modern concerto might seem like strange bedfellows, Dinnerstein says they have much in common.

“In Bach’s music, there (is) much use of patterns – patterns and sequences of patterns, configurations of patterns in different ways that lie across various voices at the same time, that harmonically modulate, that alter slightly,” Dinnerstein said in phone interview. “And all of these different patterns build up to creating a larger architecture. And that’s essentially what Philip Glass is doing in his own way.”

Dinnerstein says that these and other patterns give both works on Circles a feeling of circularity, hence the recording’s title.

I think that the music itself is quite circular,” Dinnerstein said. “There’s a feeling of going forward and returning, and especially in the Glass concerto, though also the Bach.

“In the Glass concerto,” she continued, “it begins rather quietly, and then it ends extremely quietly. The end of the third movement kind of drifts off, and you feel like the whole thing could be starting all over again at that point. And I like that circularity. Also, the patterns within both pieces have a feeling of circularity.”

Listen to my interview with Simone Dinnerstein above to hear what she says about Circles, plus hear excerpts from the Bach and Glass performances on the recording.