Sunday, Sep. 07, 2008

The Berlin Concert

A little-known 34-year-old pianist releases her first solo CD — a self-produced recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations — and it wows the music world by shooting to No. 1 on the classical charts, making her an instant international star. This fairy tale actually happened last year to Brooklyn-based Simone Dinnerstein. It was a rare case of quality substituting for hype: Dinnerstein's Bach had an arresting freshness and subtlety all her own. Now comes her eagerly awaited follow-up, The Berlin Concert, a live recital recording of more Bach, Beethoven's daunting final sonata and a contemporary take on a Bach chorale by American composer Philip Lasser. Another chart-topper? Who knows? But it's every bit as audacious — and accomplished — as Dinnerstein's debut.

— Christopher Porterfield