2003 Barbara Nissman Concert Reviews
Mid-Texas Symphony / Prokofiev Third Concerto
Barbara Nissman was the soloist in Prokofiev's exuberant Piano Concerto, No. 3, which she delivered with muscular athleticism, ample fireworks, and a clear sense of the music's underlying lyricism. Most intriguing and curiously compelling was her way of modeling tempos and shaping lines that suggested the jazz-rooted style of George Gershwin.
San Antonio Express-News 9/23/03
Stanford University, Lively Arts 1/15/03
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Prokofiev's death
& the 20th anniversary of Ginastera's death.
Barbara Nissman is considered today to be one of the leading interpreters of Sergei Prokofiev and Alberto Ginastera. She has recorded all of Prokofiev's piano sonatas and is about to record all five of his piano concertos. She has also recorded Ginastera's complete piano solo and chamber works; the composer dedicated his last piano sonata (No. 3, Op. 55) to Nissman. Not surprisingly, the program of her solo recital on Wednesday in Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford consisted of works by these two composers. Nissman's apparent desire was to demonstrate how much Prokofiev and Ginastera have in common. The program continually switched back and forth from one composer to the other and indeed showed that the soulfulness, unrelenting rhythmic drive, and extravert Lisztian pianism of the Russian was very much akin to the soulfulness, unrelenting rhythmic drive, and extravert Lisztian pianism of the Argentinian. The linchpins of the program were two sonatas by Prokofiev (No. 4, Op. 29, and No. 6, Op. 82) and two by Ginastera (No. 1, Op. 22, and No. 3, Op. 55). This quartet requires a formidable technical command of the keyboard, and Nissman proved once again that she could deftly work through most-demanding pianistic fireworks without breaking a sweat. That was particularly obvious in the explosive reading of Ginastera's motoric single-movement Third Sonata. In Prokofiev's Sonata No. 4, Nissman was forcefully convincing in the first movement and catchingly exuberant in the finale. Ginastera's four-movement First Sonata concluded the first half of the concert. The second movement was eerie and hypnotic. The slow movement spoke eloquently, with occasional heart-rending outbursts. The syncopated ostinato rhythms of Argentinean gaucho dances brought the sonata to a triumphant ending. Prokofiev's monumental four-movement Sixth Sonata concluded the program, rhyming nicely with the ending of the first half (what a well thought-out program!). Here Nissman showed an astonishing range of moods and colors: from brutally fierce to sinister and outright frightening, from ironic and naughty to tender and nostalgic, from apocalyptic to light-hearted to macabre. The rest of the program consisted of miniatures that preceded the sonatas in each half of the program. Prokofiev's four Visions fugitives from Op. 22 (Nos.1, 3, 8, and 9) were alluringly shaded. Ginastera's Rondo sobre temas infantiles argentinos, Op. 19, written for the composer's children and based on popular nursery tunes, was utterly charming. Nissman's wit was especially evident in the Rondo's sudden and humorous transitions. Prokofiev's Etude Op. 2, No. 1, an extremely difficult scherzo laden with double notes and octaves at a finger-breaking speed, was dazzling.
San Francisco Classical Voice 1/21/03
"...one of the last pianists in the grand romantic tradition of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Rubinstein"