[Note: This post has been updated (1) as of 5:10 AM Eastern on 30 Aug. See below.]
If the following report is all true, then this is nothing short of astonishing on a number of fronts.
If you want to be a concert pianist when you grow up, there are certain rules. You do start playing as a young child. You don’t drop out of Juilliard. You do win competitions and get the attention of managers at a young age. You don’t end up at 30 with no management and no bookings, raising the money yourself for your first recording. And you definitely don’t make your New York recital debut with Bach’s demanding "Goldberg" Variations, which are supposed to reflect the wisdom of long experience, and Baroque style.
Ms. Dinnerstein's recording of the "Goldberg" Variations is being released today by Telarc [Amazon link].
"Everyone is somewhat taken aback by what she does with the opening Aria," said Robert Woods, the president of Telarc.
But precisely because she puts such an individual stamp on it, Ms. Dinnerstein’s interpretation has won a lot of critical attention.
It is not usual for a self-produced album to end up on a major label, much less through the intervention of a critic. But Ms. Dinnerstein, who projects a kind of grounded calm, has all along followed her own path, and her own convictions.
"People were very discouraging when they heard the idea," she said, sitting at her dining table on the ground floor of her house in Park Slope, Brooklyn, her hands wrapped around a mug of herbal tea. "But I thought, somebody’s going to hear it, and they’re going to hear what is different about this recording, and it’s all going to work out."
Ms. Dinnerstein's pianistic reading of the grounding Aria goes rather too far in that direction for our critical ear (it's somewhat reminiscent of Gould's puzzling 1981 reading). But then, any fundamentally pianistic reading of a Bach keyboard work goes rather too far for our critical ear.
RTWT here, and be sure to check out the two linked MP3 files as well.
Update (5:10 AM Eastern on 30 Aug): And talk about astonishing! We just checked the Amazon sales rank for this album (link above). It's #4 — in all of music, not just classical. We really do have to find another word. Astonishing just doesn't cut it.