3.01.2010

Austin Symphony / Barbara Nissman : 4 of 5

Although I wasn't familiar with Barbara Nissman, who was the featured pianist for the Austin Symphony's latest concert, the program selections featuring Rachmanioff and Shostakovich looked too interesting to pass up, and my friend Matt and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance! The concert opened with Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, a short work that was instantly recognizable to me (and still singing through my mind for the rest of the evening), and then continued with Rachmaninoff's third piano concerto, considered one of the most difficult pieces for the instrument. After seeing so many "young and upcoming" featured performers with the Austin Symphony, it was interesting to watch Barbara Nissman, who has certainly spent a lifetime perfecting this incredible piece of music, which kept her fingers flying! I really enjoyed the work, which has lyrical moments combined with incredible flourishes that must make the score look like an explosion of notes. The audience's applause was so long that Nissman decided to play an additional solo piece that was beautiful (I love it when soloists are kind enough to do that!). The second half of the program featured Shostakovich's 5th symphony, which is quite an epic work that requires a huge orchestra including two harps and additional percussion. I have listened to very little Shostakovich, since he's a bit modern for my usual taste, but I was really impressed by this interesting work (and Matt considers it the best piece he's heard the Austin Symphony perform so far), so I'd like to study it further! As always, listening to the Austin Symphony was an inspiring experience, and I appreciate the opportunity to be introduced to more flavors of classical music.