Simone Dinnerstein: Broadway-Lafayette
Broadway-Lafayette is a New York City subway station in Manhattan, so someone will have to explain to me its relevance to these three works for piano and orchestra. The Ravel and Gershwin open and close the disc, with the world premiere recording of Philip Lasser’s Piano Concerto in the middle.
Were I hearing the Ravel G major and Rhapsody in Blue for the first time through these performances, I should count myself lucky. The sound engineering is vibrant, the acoustic focused, allowing the percussion and brass to pack a real punch, with the soloist ideally placed in the balance. Simone Dinnerstein, who has made her reputation playing Bach, proves a formidable exponent of both works, exhilarating in the outer movements of the Ravel. The slow movement has a superbly played duet with the cor anglais and is a highlight of the disc. She pays Gershwin/Grofé the compliment of playing exactly what they wrote (for once) – except for taking the ‘blues’ section at bar 260 way under tempo.
Philip Lasser’s Concerto, The Circle and the Child (a poetic rather than programmatic subtitle), was written specially for Dinnerstein and premiered in 2012. The composer describes it as a tribute to his ‘three favourite composers and also teachers’, Debussy, Bach and Schumann, and jokingly refers to the first movement as ‘the piano concerto Debussy never wrote’. The second movement, ‘Chorale and Child’, is built on Ihr Gestirn, ihr hohen Lüfte, BWV366. The finale, ‘Circles’, has less distinct origins but, while it is the only one of the three to use overtly dissonant harmonies, it is no less mellow and reflective than the others: this must be one of the least virtuoso and showy piano concertos of recent years.