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The Legacy of Maria Yudina
Vol 8

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano sonatas
No 5
No 12
No 22
No 32

Maria Yudina was a recognized expert on Beethoven. All musicologists while making note of her arguable interpretations of the romantic music unanimously accepted that playing Bach, Mozart and Beethoven she was in her element. In the music of these composers Yudina appeared in all her magnitude and raised to the height of true irradiation. Her interpretations of Beethoven's Sonatas No 29, Sonata No 32, Piano concertos No 4 and No 5, 33 Variations may be likened to the summits shining in a chain of mountains of the world greatest performance of Beethoven's music.
But Yudina was an artist and personality of an absolutely independent character. She always went her own way playing against the established traditions and sometimes against the composers' instructions. She was breaking the rules but obeying the supreme laws of art according to which the artists of all times and nations were creating their works. Yudina often quoted Father Pavel Florensky who once said that one should not turn laws into rules because laws live while rules are static.
So what is Sonata No 12 as interpreted by Yudina?
It leaves an impression of an astonishing integrity and a profound consideration. The first movement goes a little bit slower than was usually played. Yudina takes the tempo of a quiet and majestic stalk and presents no expected diversity in variations (with the exception of the third one in the style of scherzo). Thus the whole peace manifestly corresponds with the Funeral March especially when it comes to the minor variation. The second movement is presented as a light, scherzo like piece. This quality of the music is achieved first of all by means of gracious dynamics and reappears in the Finale that astonishes the listener by a superfine play of light and shade. But the Funeral March is performed with mournful and sometimes tragic intonations. Trills in the left hand sound especially expressive. It arouses associations with the Funeral March from Sonata No 2 by Frederic Chopin. And then the Finale played with fantastic virtuosity rushes like the wind over the grave consolidates the association.
Yudina's interpretations of Beethoven's sonatas strike above all by a multi-dimensional image of each work, the entirety of the concept, very accurate details closely bound together, absolute sincerity, very high emotional and ethical tone. One can hear all this in small works like early Sonata No 5 and in a more extensive Sonata No 16 and in a monumental opus 111. In No 5, the impetuous first movement and restless finale both go very fast. Yudina's expressive means are precise and concise here. Her performance is full of energy and dramatic tension. And in between these two movements an elevated and laid-back molto adagio goes where slowly flowing time calls for meditation. Sonata No 16, on the contrary, is rich in charming details. Yudina generously scatters before us sparkles of her inexhaustible imagination.
When reflecting upon Yudina's interpretations of Beethoven's sonatas one would always become aware of astonishing vivacity of her performance. The music that comes out of her fingers is full of life, sparkles with wittiness, fascinates with childish innocence and purity, disarms by the purity of her soul and by a wonderful capacity for taking different images. All this calls forth admiration from every listener. One wonders how is it possible especially from an artist who has a propensity for monumental forms and profound philosophical interpretation of music. A great pianist displays a truly rich imagination, a rare diversity of sounding that sometimes comes as if not from under her powerful hands, amazing flexibility of intonations, a very subtle use of nuances, an almost inaudible breathing inside a tune or a phrase, unpredictable turns of thinking. Paradoxically as it may seem all this makes Yudina's perfect interpretations seemingly incomplete as if opened for further work of imagination. There is still no full stop here and will never be. A great pianist creates music every time anew and as to recording… Well, it only retains for us those moments of creative work.
There is another very important consideration about Yudina's interpretations of Beethoven's sonatas. And that is her surprisingly easy handling of tempo. Maria Veniaminovna proves to us that Beethoven's strict tempo and rhythmical structures do not rule out a possibility of rubato. Beethoven himself provides enough grounds for that. Every now and then we come across, especially in his late works, the composer's notes like retardandi which means sort of hesitations, deliberations; or fermati that is questioning, bewilderment that may cause a sudden change of mood; and then again - a tempo. Or, as if Sonata No 30, after impetuous vivace a sudden adagio and then again vivace. However Yudina feels the need for freedom to chose tempos and rhythm also in Beethoven's early works and she makes use of it in a very convincing way and with an impeccable sense of proportion.
Marina Drozdova

Sonata № 5 c-moll, op. 10 N 1
1 Molto allegro e con brio
2 Adagio molto
3 Finale. Prestissimo
Sonata № 12 As-Dur, ор. 26
4 Andante con variazione
5 Scherzo. Allegro molto
6 Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un Eroe
7 Allegro
Sonata № 22 F-Dur, ор. 54
8 In tempo d'un menuetto
9 Allegretto
Sonata № 32 c-moll, ор. 111
10 Maestoso. Allegro con brio ed appassionato
11 Arietta. Adagio molto semplice e cantabile

Total: 72.59

Recorded 3.05.50 (1-3); 25.07.51 (8-9); 9.09.58 (4 -7); 26.06.58 (10-11)
Restoration Vista Vera, 2005




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