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Nuit et Jour (Maria Martinova)

Maria Martinova (piano) (Rubicon)

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

Nuit et Jour
Debussy: Images – selection; Preludes – selection; Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit; La Valse; Zanon: Nuit et Jour
Maria Martinova (piano)
Rubicon RCD1108   74:42 mins

A warning of what’s in store comes in Maria Martinova’s liner notes, which say nothing about the three composers whose works she plays (Debussy, Ravel and Gregorio Zanon – about whom I had to consult the internet), but which tell us a lot about her feelings. She is of her time in preferring ‘my truth’ to that of the composers, rhythm and pulse being the main victims, though dynamics also suffer. In my head I hear the disembodied voice of Debussy, insisting to Marguerite Long that ‘four semiquavers are four semiquavers’. Then there’s Ravel, who had serious run-ins with two pianists over matters of accuracy. First his friend Ricardo Viñes refused to play ‘Le Gibet’ as implacably as Ravel wanted, claiming it would bore audiences to death, so the composer gave him no more premieres; then some 20 years later Paul Wittgenstein who, having commissioned the Left Hand Concerto, reckoned he had a say in how to play it, was forced to protest ‘Performers should not be slaves’, a lob which Ravel smashed over the net with ‘Performers are slaves’.

Sadly, ‘Le Gibet’ here gets the Viñes treatment, the first bars of ‘Ondine’ are much too loud… I could go on. The star rating recognises that Martinova is playing all the right notes, but I’m afraid the other relations between them are needlessly and relentlessly skewed. At least we still have Jean-Efflam avouzet for Debussy and Vlado Perlemuter for Ravel.

Roger Nichols