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Variation on Variations

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According to music critic Allan Koznin, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, played in its entirety, has everything: “a graceful aria at the start and finish, a varied and increasingly challenging set of canons, and gently but deeply involved variations alternating with virtuosic, fantasia-like tones.” Glenn Gould set the standard with his 1955 recording, and few pianists have dared climb the path of Gould’s monumental achievement.

Enter Simone Dinnerstein. A Julliard dropout, Dinnerstein made a self-financed recording of the variations in 2005, which helped to spread her reputation and increased her concert engagements. It was not until last August, however, that her album was picked up by the venerable Telarc label. It earned the number-one spot on the Billboard Classical Chart the week of its release. The unpretentious elegance and expressiveness of Dinnerstein’s reading are in direct variance with Gould’s cool asceticism, but her idiosyncratic reworking of the Bach warhorse refreshes the work after 50 years of Gould. Bringing Dinnerstein to Beacon is another inspired bit of programming by the Howland Chamber Music Circle.

Simone Dinnerstein will perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations on Sunday, March 2 at 4pm at the Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main Street in Beacon.
(845) 297-9243; www.howlandmusic.org.

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