Click the video below to listen to Simone Dinnerstein explain this program of Bach keyboard works performed by some of today's finest keyboardists:
Bach Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106 (arr. Kurtag)
Bach Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62 (arr. Busoni)
Bach Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (arr. Busoni)
Bach Concerto in C minor for Two Pianos, BWV 1060
Dan Tepfer Algorithmic Improvisation on B.A.C.H.
Bach Concerto in C major for Two Pianos, BWV 1061
Bach Concerto in F minor for Piano, BWV 1056
Bach Concerto in D minor for Three Pianos, BWV 1063
Philip Lasser/Bach Intermezzo and Fugatine on the E major Prelude and Fugue from The Well-Tempered Clavier
Bach Concerto in A minor for Four Pianos, BWV 106
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
American pianist Simone Dinnerstein is known for her “majestic originality of vision” (The Independent) and her “lean, knowing and unpretentious elegance” (The New Yorker).
2017 saw three major projects for Dinnerstein. She released the album Mozart in Havana, recorded in Cuba with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. She went on to bring the orchestra to the United States for their first ever American tour, playing eleven concerts from Miami to Boston. Philip Glass wrote a piano concerto for Dinnerstein, co-commissioned by a consortium of twelve orchestras. She premiered it in Boston with string orchestra A Far Cry in what the Wall Street Journal described as a “graceful, fluid reading.” At the New York premiere The New Yorker was “struck dumb with admiration” by this new addition to the piano concerto repertoire. During 2018 Dinnerstein will perform the concerto withtwelve orchestras across America and internationally with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. She will release a recording of Glass’ piano concerto with A Far Cry in spring 2018. Finally, Dinnerstein continued her rich history with Bach’s Goldberg Variations. She collaborated with choreographer Pam Tanowitz on New Work for Goldberg Variations, which featured on the 2017 top ten lists of critics at The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
Dinnerstein first attracted attention in 2007 with her self-produced recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It was a remarkable success, reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many "Best of 2007" lists including those of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker. The recording also received the prestigious Diapason D’Or in France and established Dinnerstein’s distinctive and original approach. The New York Times called her “a unique voice in the forest of Bach interpretation.” She has gone on to make a further eight albums since then with repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Ravel.
Since 2007 the New York-based pianist’s performance schedule has taken her around the world. She has performed at venues including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Sydney Opera House, Seoul Arts Center, and London's Wigmore Hall; festivals that include the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, the Aspen, Verbier, and Ravinia festivals; and performances with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, RAI National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, and the Tokyo Symphony.
Dinnerstein has played concerts throughout the U.S. for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing classical music to non-traditional venues. She gave the first classical music performance in the Louisiana state prison system at the Avoyelles Correctional Center, and performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to her community, in 2009 Dinnerstein founded Neighborhood Classics, a concert series open to the public hosted by New York public schools which raises funds for their music education programs. She has also created a program called Bachpacking for elementary schools. She takes a digital keyboard into individual classrooms, helping young children to get close to the music she loves. Dinnerstein, a winner of Astral Artists’ National Auditions, is a graduate of The Juilliard School where she was a student of Peter Serkin. She also studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music and in London with Maria Curcio. She is on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and Old English Sheepdog, Daisy.
Among his generation of concert artists, pianist Awadagin Pratt is acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras.
Born in Pittsburgh, Awadagin Pratt began studying piano at the age of six. Three years later, having moved to Normal, Illinois with his family, he also began studying violin. At the age of 16 he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin, and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Musicwhere he became the first student in the school's history to receive diplomas in three performance areas - piano, violin and conducting. In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Mr. Pratt recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins.
In 1992 Mr. Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Since then, he has played numerous recitals throughout the US including performances at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and Chicago's Orchestra Hall. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, National, Detroit and New Jersey symphonies among many others. Summer festival engagements include Ravinia, Blossom, Wolf Trap, Caramoor and Aspen, the Hollywood Bowl and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo.
Recent and upcoming appearances include recital engagements at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and in Baltimore, La Jolla, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and at Duke University, as well as appearances with the orchestras of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Seattle, Colorado, Portland ME, Utah, Richmond, Grand Rapids, Winston-Salem, Allentown and Springfield, OH. He played a recital in Carnegie Hall for the Naumburg Foundation in November 2010 and appeared at the 2012 Ravinia Festival in a duo recital with cellist Zuill Bailey.
As a conductor, Mr. Pratt participated in the American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductor's Guild workshops and the National Conducting Institute, where he worked closely with Leonard Slatkin and conducted the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He has also conducted the Toledo, New Mexico, Vancouver WA, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe and Prince George County symphonies, the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Concertante di Chicago and several orchestras in Japan.
A great favorite on college and university performing arts series and a strong advocate of music education, Awadagin Pratt participates in numerous residency and outreach activities wherever he appears; these activities may include master classes, children's recitals, play/talk demonstrations and question/answer sessions for students of all ages.
Internationally, Mr. Pratt has toured Japan four times and performed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel, Colombia and South Africa.
Awadagin Pratt has been the subject of numerous articles in the national press, including Newsweek, People Magazine and New York Newsday. He was named one of the 50 Leaders of Tomorrow in Ebony Magazine's special 50th anniversary issue and has been featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today, St. Paul Sunday Morning and Weekend Edition. On television, Mr. Pratt has performed on the Today Show, Good Morning America and Sesame Street, been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning and was one of the featured soloists on PBS's "Live from the Kennedy Center - A Salute to Slava." In November 2009, Mr. Pratt was one of four artists selected to perform at a White House classical music eventthat included student workshops hosted by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and performing in concert for guests including President Obama. He has performed two other times at the White House, both at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Pratt's recordings for Angel/EMI include A Long Way From Normal, an all Beethoven Sonata CD, Live From South Africa, Transformations and an all Bach disc with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. His most recent recordings are the Brahms Sonatas for Cello and Piano with Zuill Bailey for Telarc and a recording of the music of Judith Lang Zaimont with the Harlem Quartet for Navona Records.
Mr. Pratt is currently Professor of Piano at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He is also the Artistic Director of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati as well as the Artistic Director of the Art of the Piano Festival at CCM.
Awadagin Pratt is a Yamaha artist.
One of his generation’s extraordinary talents, Dan Tepfer has made a name for himself as a pianist-composer of wide-ranging ambition, individuality and drive — “a remarkable musician” in the words of the Washington Post and one “who refuses to set himself limits” in those of France’s Télérama. The New York City-based Tepfer, born in 1982 in Paris to American parents, has performed with some of the leading lights in jazz; as a leader, he has crafted a discography already striking for its breadth and depth, ranging from probing solo improvisation and intimate duets to trio albums rich in experimentation. Tepfer’s acclaimed Sunnyside/Naïve album Goldberg Variations / Variations saw the pianist performing J.S. Bach’s masterpiece as well as improvising upon it to “build a bridge across centuries and genres” as the Wall Street Journal put it. New York magazine called the album “elegant, thoughtful and thrilling,” while DownBeat declared it “one of the more audacious, accomplished recordings of the year.” Bringing together his undergraduate studies in astrophysics with his passion for music, he is currently working on integrating computer-driven algorithms into his improvisational approach.
Tepfer’s latest release is Eleven Cages, released on Sunnyside Records in June 2017.His first jazz trio album in seven years, Popmatters called it “Thrilling, fresh, and always smart”. It ranges from deeply melodic originals and free pieces to interpretations of Gershwin’s “I Loves You, Porgy” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”. Named “one of the very best essays in contemporary piano trio jazz you'll hear all year” by JazzWise UK, it finds Tepfer exploring freedom within boundaries and the malleability of time in a seemingly telepathic trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Nate Wood.
For his newest project, Acoustic Informatics, Tepfer returns to his background in science for an exploration of the intersection between algorithms and improvisation. Using Yamaha's Disklavier, an acoustic concert piano that can be controlled by computer, he has written programs that respond in real time to his improvisations, leading to an exceptional melding of man and machine. Simultaneously, algorithmic projections create a mesmerizing visual universe that reveals the underlying musical structure. National Public Radio (NPR)’s 2017 short documentary on this project, Fascinating Algorithm, has been viewed over 1.4 million times on Facebook.
His previous release was Small Constructions — an album of duets with multi-reed player and Kneebody co-founder Ben Wendel, released on Sunnyside Records in 2013. A set of songs without words, Small Constructions is a multi-tracked, multi-layered production featuring Tepfer and Wendel playing multiple instruments in multiple styles, extending from fresh versions of Monk tunes to pieces based on Handel and Messiaen motifs, from a standard given an artful makeover to originals that underscore the duo’s melodic flair. In the words of the New York Times, it reveals “a wide-open sensibility, about as tuned in to Bach and Björk as to Monk and Shorter.”
Tepfer, whose mother was an opera singer and grandfather a jazz pianist, began classical piano studies at age 6 at the Paris Conservatoire-Paul Dukas. The young musician took a circuitous route to a jazz career, first earning a bachelor's degree in astrophysics from Scotland's University of Edinburgh. He played extensively on the jazz scene in college and even enjoyed a brief stint as an opera conductor. After graduating in 2005 from Boston’s New England Conservatory, where he completed his masters under the guidance of Danilo Perez, Tepfer moved to New York and quickly became an in-demand player, performing with such innovators as Steve Lacy, Paul Motian, Bob Brookmeyer, Joe Lovano, Ralph Towner, Billy Hart and Mark Turner. Tepfer was introduced by Martial Solal, one of his mentors in France, to Lee Konitz. The veteran saxophone luminary and the young pianist hit it off at once, sparking a partnership that would yield duet performances on both sides of the Atlantic and the 2009 Sunnyside album Duos with Lee. Described as “a benchmark of human potential” by Jazz Inside, the Tepfer-Konitz album embodies the notion of jazz as an artistic exchange across the generations, comprising mostly freely improvised pieces. A new duo album, Decade, is slated for release in June 2018 on Impulse.
The Village Voice described Tepfer’s Goldberg Variations / Variations this way: “In a ballsy move that resounds with an unabashed yen for balance, the insightful pianist concocts a freeprov ditty for each of Bach’s most famous miniatures. On the classical side, the 60 tracks are a blend of grace and power. On the jazz side, they’re built with daring and élan. It’s easy to respect both.” The prelude to Tepfer’s Bachian explorations was his solo Twelve Free Improvisations in Twelve Keys (DIZ, 2009), an engaging, absorbing album rooted in some of his earliest musical explorations. Considering the contemplative reveries of this pianist, DownBeat said: “Tepfer has the ability to disappear into the music even as he’s making it.”
Tepfer’s first two trio albums — Oxygen (DIZ, 2007) and Before the Storm (DIZ, 2005) — saw the pianist in league with bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Richie Barshay, longtime confreres with close rapport. Allying high instrumental finish to tight arrangements, the albums ranged from Tepfer’s irresistible, ever-lyrical originals to ingenious versions of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” — and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It was such music-making that led Time Out London to say: “Tepfer is among the most accomplished and imaginative of the new wave of players emerging across the pond. He specializes in a rippling style that builds complex melodic layers of ideas... A piano star.”
For his third trio album — Five Pedals Deep (Sunnyside, 2010) — Tepfer convened a new, galvanizing partnership with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Ted Poor. Whether on originals of great beauty by Tepfer (including some solo interludes) or covers of a Jacques Brel tune and “Body and Soul,” it was the sound of surprise that the pianist was after with this album. According to The New York Times, Tepfer’s Five Pedals Deep “lays out something like a personal manifesto… Mr. Tepfer unfurls his lyricism in great silvery arcs.” All Music Guide described the album as “inventive” and “intense,” while Stereophile simply judged it “beautiful.” All About Jazz singled out Tepfer’s tune “I Was Wonderin’ ” for its brand of playful sophistication, with “its hints of swing, rock, and even classical… there simply to service the nuanced shading of the piece.”
Tepfer’s playing — whether performing with Lee Konitz at the Village Vanguard or leading his trio at the Jazz Standard, going solo with his complete Goldberg Variations / Variations at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge or playing in an all-star Bud Powell tribute at Birdland — is always a mix of the gorgeous and the vivacious, lyricism balanced with swing, freedom with cohesion. The New York Times has called him “a pianist of exceptional poise who is drawn to the deeper currents of melody.”
All-around, Tepfer is “one of the moment’s most adventurous and relevant musicians,” according to New York magazine. He was voted a Best New Artist in JazzTimes in 2010 and a Rising Star in DownBeat in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Among his awards are the first prize and audience prize at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition, first prize at the 2006 East Coast Jazz Festival Competition, and first prize at the 2007 competition of the American Pianists Association. He has been named a Cultural Envoy of the U.S. State Department, with travels to Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Czech Republic. He has also lectured and led master classes from London to Warsaw to Seoul.
As a composer, he is a recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for works including Concerto for Piano and Winds, premiered in the Prague Castle with himself on piano, and Solo Blues for Violin and Piano, premiered at Carnegie Hall. In 2016, he became a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, where he composed Solar Spiral, a three-movement piece for piano quintet commissioned by the Ravinia Festival.
Philip Lasser is a visionary composer native to French and American traditions. His music, direct and undisguised, creates a unique sound world that blends together the colorful harmonies of French Impressionist sonorities and the dynamic rhythms and characteristics of American music.
His newly commissioned concerto for piano and orchestra, “The Circle and the Child,” is featured on the recently released Sony Classical album “Broadway-Lafayette” with Simone Dinnerstein and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kristjan Järvi. Lasser’s works have also been performed by the Atlanta, Seattle, Boulder and Shreveport Symphonies, as well as The New York Chamber Symphony, and by artists including Kristjan Järvi, Susanna Phillips, Elizabeth Futral, Margo Garrett, Lucy Shelton, Cho-Liang Lin, Zuill Bailey, Brian Zeger, Jean-Frédéric Neuburger and Sasha Cooke. Lasser’s works can be heard on the Sony Classical, Telarc, New World, Crystal, and BMG RCA/Red Seal labels.
Early in his musical training, Lasser entered Nadia Boulanger’s famed Ecole d’Arts Americaines in Fontainebleau, France, where he began to establish his connection to the French lineage. Following his studies at Harvard College, where he graduated summa cum laude, Lasser lived in Paris while working with Boulanger’s closest colleague and disciple, Narcis Bonet, and legendary pianist Gaby Casadesus. Lasser later received his master’s degree from Columbia University, where he undertook intensive studies in counterpoint with René Leibowitz’s disciple, Jacques-Louis Monod, and received his doctorate from The Juilliard School, where he studied with composer David Diamond.
Lasser is the author of “The Spiraling Tapestry: An Inquiry into the Contrapuntal Fabric of Music,” which brings new insights into the world of musical analysis. Since 1996, he has been the director of the European American Music Alliance (EAMA), a school dedicated to training young composers, chamber musicians, and conductors in the tradition of Nadia Boulanger. He is also the artistic director of Gaspard, a performance group based in New York City that is dedicated to performing music in the French perspective through salon-type concerts. Lasser has been a distinguished member of the faculty of The Juilliard School since 1994. He currently lives in New York City with his family.
Click HERE to watch a video of Dinnerstein, Pratt, & Tepfer in concert with Ensemble Baroklyn.