An American Mosaic; Three Bach Transcriptions
Simone Dinnerstein (piano)
Supertrain SR 025 64:11 mins
Last September, microphones were set up in Simone Dinnerstein’s Brooklyn home next to her favourite Steinway piano. The lockdown album A Character of Quiet resulted, with limpid playing of Schubert and Philip Glass half-hidden under a cloudy acoustic. Recording conditions haven’t improved since then, and her piano still sounds constricted and dry. None of this, though, can knock out all the pleasures of listening to Richard Danielpour’s An American Mosaic, a therapeutic and moving cycle of 15 short movements in honour of America’s Covid heroes, written for Dinnerstein through the summer months.
Individual movements – stately, fraught, upbeat, consoling – collectively celebrate doctors, scientists, parents, children, research physicians and other bodies, even journalists, while four so-called ‘consolations’ offer elegant pauses for more abstract thoughts. The surprise is the restrained if doleful section dedicated to the Trump administration, entitled ‘The Visible Enemy’.
Despite the varieties of mood and the eclectic styles brought into play, the cycle remains a unified work, tied together by shared motifs, and caressed and enlivened by Dinnerstein’s quick fingers. Thoughtful and ascetic, the three transcriptions of movements from Bach’s St Matthew Passion and B minor Mass bring this imperfect but valuable album to a tender close.