Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Barbara Nissmann
at Noëlle Mann memorial concert

Barbara Nissman, Alexander Ivashkin, Dmitri Alexeyev, Goldsmiths Chamber Choir and Sinfonia

Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London 8 December 2010

Barbara Nissmann travelled from her home in West Virginia to take part in this tribute to her musicologist colleague and friend Noëlle Mann, who was curator of the Prokofiev Archive at the Centre for Russian Music, Goldsmiths College, from where Noëlle organised numerous musical events and conducted her Kalina Choir specialising in Russian sacred choral music*.

I had only heard Barbara Nissmann play live once before, in 2004 when she was in UK to take part in a Prokofiev 50th Anniversary Conference Prokofiev in America at London University's Chancellor's Hall. Barbara played then the 6th sonata and afterwards gave me her complete Prokofiev CD box to review.

Subsequently Musical Pointers has reviewed Barbara Nissman's prolific output of Pierian CDs, most of them recorded during a period following her own bereavement when she was not playing in public.

At last night's concert Barbara gave us the concise 3rd sonata and three (too few) of the lovely Visions Fugitives. Her accounts, played by memory, were rich and warm, displaying a close identification with the composer whose entire piano music is in her vast repertoire. [Included also in her "Favourites" series of Pierian recordings, hear her in Prokofiev's Sonata No.6].

It upstaged completely two other Prokofiev sonatas in this ambitious and over-long concert. Former Leeds Competition winner Dmitiri Alexeev gave a trenchant account of the expansive sixth sonata (played from music) which was tiring to listen to at that stage of the evening.

He had previously been joined in the cello sonata by Alexander Ivashkin, Head of Performance Studies at Goldsmiths.

At c.10 pm, after the mother of all platform re-arrangements, Ivashkin conducted Goldsmiths' massive music student forces in Prokofiev's grandiose and rarely heard Seven: they are Seven of 1918/33 ["modernist innovatory" - Simon Morrison]; "seminal", according to Noelle Mann, who had acquired its manuscript for Goldsmiths.

A fine raucous noise, and a fitting piece for occasional airing, though never likely to gain a place in the Prokofiev concert repertoire, but a good one to end a memorable memorial evening for an important Prokofievian.

Peter Grahame Woolf

P.S. This morning we put onto the CD player again the most recent of Barbara Nissman CD's Recital Favourites, Volume V (Dedicated to Noëlle Mann) - receipt of which was how I learnt of Noelle's death.

After a magisterial Chopin Op.22 came that Prokofiev Sonata No 6, his largest, which we approached hearing again so soon with some trepidation. It proved to be a totally different account from Alexeev's last night's, one with warmth, wit where appropriate and in excellent sound, engineered by Barbara's regular technical collaborators. Another Nissman disc to recommend strongly [Pierian 0041].

* Noelle Mann's locally famed Kalina Choir, devoted to promoting the rich choral tradition of Russia, and well loved for its enthusiasm in presenting that heart-warming repertoire in excellent Russian, contributed several characteristic items by Bortiniansky, Dargomyzhsky, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Sviridov. PGW

Please click on the blue links above, which are integral to this report.

AND DO SEE Remembering Noelle, a fully illustrated article by David Nice with his photo of Barbara Nissman and Chris Mann after the concert