Barbara Nissman has chosen difficult programs for her latest discs on this label (Pierian): Bach's Prelude & Fugue in A minor (BWV 543) transcribed for piano (from the original organ) by Liszt, Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, Op. 106, three Liszt Transcendental Etudes (Harmonies du Soir, Feux follets, Chasse-neige), his Consolation No. 3 and Prokofiev's Suggestion Diabolique (0037), Bach's Italian Concerto, Ravel's Sonatine, three etudes by Scriabin and Balikirev's Islamey (0038). The greatest challenges are the Beethoven and Liszt sonatas, both musically and in terms of recorded competition. She plays both with a striking combination of urgency and repose. There is something very personal in her interpretations, which manifests itself strongly in the great slow movement of the Beethoven and in the phrasing of the Liszt Sonata, especially in the slower, more pensive passages. The familiar Italian Concerto is played with considerable feeling, unusual for this piece. Islamey is given an amazingly clear performance, with every note in the complex textures heard to maximum effect. Nissman is engaged in an impressive series that will cover her favorite pieces in the entire piano repertory (earlier volumes were reviewed in Issue 208, Pierian); the first four discs have been brilliant, technically and musically. Lifelike sound and totally satisfying discs.
Turok's Choice May, 2010