Sergei RAKHMANINOV (19873-1943)
24 Preludes: Op 3 No.2 [4.46]; Op. 23 Nos. 1-10 [32.59]; Op. 32 Nos. 1-13 [39.12] Marta Deyanova (piano)
rec. Wyastone Leys, 6-7 April 1987
NIMBUS NI 5094 [76:57]
Nimbus are a steadfastly faithful label. By this I mean that even the products of their vinyl twilight days have been transferred to CD and kept in the catalogue. On the other hand they are not given to discounting. Their products remain confidently at premium or upper middle price except in the case of their occasional forays into jumbo boxes.
Sofia-born Marta Deyanova has been a name long associated with Nimbus alongside those of Shura Gehrman, Hugues Cuénod, Youra Guller and Vlado Perlemuter. A graduate of the Bulgarian State Conservatory, she first appeared in the UK in 1975 at the Wigmore Hall. Her other Nimbus CDs, all dating from about the same time, are Scriabin (Etudes)/Prokofiev (Visions Fugitives) (NI 5176), Schumann Carnaval and Phantasiestücke (NI 5545) and Scriabin/Shostakovich Preludes (NI 5026). I would like to hear her Balkanton CDs – especially the Rachmaninov First Piano Concerto but they seem to be unavailable. I see that alongside the Brahms, Grieg, Tchaikovsky (1), Strauss (Burleske) she has Rachmaninov 2 and 3 in her repertoire.
The present generously packed disc sets out some very healthy sounding recordings dating from 25 years ago. The readings exude warmth without sultry condensation and drama without uncontrolled blur. The centred calm and unerring pace of Op. 23 No. 4 (Andante Cantabile) contrasts with the blocky angular muscularity and glimmery shimmer of the famous Op. 23 No. 5 (Alla marcia). Speaking of shimmer try the sentimentally trembling Op. 32 No. 4 where we hear elite empathy and advocacy. One regrets that in those days Deyanova never got to tackle the Etudes-Tableaux not to mention the Medtner Skazki. Console yourself in the meantime with a set that is an intrinsic pleasure and a characterful companion to the conventionally and rightly celebrated Ashkenazy Decca traversal.
The excellent notes are by Noël Goodwin.
Rob Barnett
Warmth without sultry condensation and drama without uncontrolled blur.