"...one of the last pianists in the grand romantic tradition of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Rubinstein"
The Complete Music for Piano
and Piano Chamber Ensembles (2 CD set)
"A magnificent interpreter of my music, one of the best pianists in the world."
- Alberto Ginastera
Barbara Nissman has made Ginastera’s powerful, drivingly rhythmic and often very personal style her own -– something the composer must have noted when he dedicated his Third Piano Sonata to her in 1982. This two-disc set is a valuable document, drawing together Ginastera's entire output for piano solo and chamber ensemble with piano; Nissman bounds her way through the lot with tremendous assurance, from the dancing dissonances of the First Sonata (1952) to the increasing modernism of the chamber music from the Sixties and Seventies. The set is perhaps best sampled in small doses, however. It’s hard not to feel that the earlier, evocatively South American pieces are more satisfying than the relatively anonymous, if inventive, instrumental effects of the more atonal later works -– moving with the times doesn't always enhance a composer’s individual voice. And there are some moments when Ginastera’s persistent cross-rhythms and bashed-out bitonality can seem over-repetitive. It always remains interesting, however, and performances of great conviction make this set excellent library material. Highlights definitely include the darkly soulful cello playing of Aurora Natola-Ginastera, making the most of the sensuous colours in Pampeana No. 2 (1950), and Nissman drawing out the ghostly, spine-tingling ‘presto misterioso’ quality of the First Sonata's scherzo.
BBC Music Magazine April 2009
Summary for the Busy Executive: Stunning.
This set restores to the catalogue two important recordings (originally on Newport Classics). Pierian does heroic rescue work with taste and imagination. All the performers are wonderful...The major heroine of the set, however, has to be Barbara Nissman, a powerful pianist and a musician of laser-like focus. You know she has done all the head-work on the sonatas, but she comes over as a force of nature. She not only gets the steel and rhythm of the toccatas (and power without pounding), but above all she generates a wealth of color and an inexorable musical line, whether she is loud or soft. She hasn't had the career she deserved, mainly, I believe, because she is pigeonholed as a Modern "specialist" (her Prokofiev sonatas are tremendous as well). Nevertheless, I think she can play anything. I'd love to hear her Beethoven or her Chopin. If she plays Brahms, I'd love to hear that. She has the combination of ardor and intellect. Strongly recommended.
If one sees Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) as primarily a composer full of nervous energy and brio, these performances are the ones to choose. The Nissman collection originated on two Newport CDs and is hereby released as a double. Nissman is a player of great energy. She does not lack a sense of lyricism, however, and the sound she produces is excellent- it is good to have these recordings back with us.
American Record Guide Sept/Oct. 2001
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
All the piano and chamber works are on 2cds in excellent performances by pianist Barbara Nissman, reissued from the decade-old Newport Classics 85510,85511. At the time of his death he had completed the first movement of a third piano sonata, written for Ms. Nissman. It is included in her set.
Turok's Choice, Summer 2001
Chosen one of the Best Recordings of 1989 by both Gramophone and American Record Guide.
This is some of the most remarkable piano playing I have heard in many years.
American Record Guide
This disc shows off well her magnetic keyboard personality and electrifying, stunning technique: even in an age where high virtuosity is commonplace, Nissman's playing here is extraordinary.