This release is a ton of fun, and a must for anyone who wants something different in their piano collection. Barbara Nissman had a long and personal association with the composer Alberto Ginastera, and her commitment to his work radiates in every bar. The University of Michigan Symphony under Maestro Kiesler has also shown a unique dedication to rare and challenging repertoire, so this partnership is just as successful on disc as it seems on paper. The U of M Symphony plays exceptionally well for a student orchestra, but as I've noted in these pages, they are one of the best ensembles of their kind, anywhere.
Nissmann's career was personally launched by conductor Eugene Ormandy, to give readers some idea of how fine a pianist she must have been in her best days. Not that they're necessarily behind her; she plays with a beautiful tone, unforced virtuosity, and as mentioned, a real feeling for the sound world of the composer. Each of these works – two presented here for the first time – speaks of a creative genius who clearly wrote some really good music. While the Concierto is a student piece, it's full of good tunes. The latter two works show the composer fully at the height of his powers. These are dazzling and engrossing works, and Nissman plays them as I suspect only she can.
Maestro Kiesler conducts with his usual intelligence and musicality, and his young charges sound like they are having a great deal of fun. The sound isn't perfect, but it's perfectly acceptable and captures the orchestra faithfully. Only the balances between piano and orchestra are somewhat suspect, but this is an ambitious project that provides genuine musical rewards. An exciting release.
Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman