Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ginastera: The Piano Concertos -- A Legacy Restored

Nissman Plays Ginastera
The Three Piano Concertos
Barbara Nissman, piano
University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra
Keith Kiesler, conductor

This release is a case of matching the right performer with the right music. Barbara Nissman enjoyed a close professional relationship with Alberto Ginastera -- his third piano sonata is dedicated to her. Not only is Nissman well-versed in Ginastera's style, but she also gives them the tender-loving care they need.

The Concierto Argentino ia a good example. Ginastera wrote this early in his career. It's a youthful work, bustling with energy. Ginastera wasn't quite happy with it, and made changes to the score. Nissman plays the original version, which provides valuable insight into the composer's development and an enjoyable listening experience.
Barbara Nissman performed Ginastera's first numbered piano concerto under the direction of the composer. Her authoritative command of this elegantly crafted material is impressive, and her deep knowledge of the composition reveals lines and connections I've not heard in other recordings.

Ginastera's second piano concerto is the more adventuresome of the three stylistically. The agressive harmonies and abstract melodic lines have little of the folk elements so prominent in the other concertos. Ginastera originally composed the scherzo to be played with the right hand only. The premiering soloist wanted a left hand movement, so she transcribed it, changing some of the music in the process. Nissman restores the scherzo to the original music (and hand) for this recording.

The University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra proves a first-rate ensemble under the baton of Kenneth Keisler. Don't be fooled by the lackluster DIY cover -- these are well-recorded performances and important additions to Ginastera's legacy.

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