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Maria Yudina was one of the greatest pianists of 20th century Russia. Uncompromising, sometimes ruthless playing characterised this enigmatic pianist, a sufferer of the Soviet regime. Sviatoslav Richter once asked her: “Why do you play this Bach prelude so loud?” her answer: “Because there is a war on!” The selection on this 3-CD set includes works by her beloved Bach, her magnificent Beethoven (Opus 111!), Liszt, and wonderfully tender Brahms Intermezzi.
One of the few artists openly opposed to the Soviet leadership, Maria Yudina today ranks among the greatest musicians of her age. A phenomenal pianist who is particularly remembered for the virtuosity, spirituality and intellectual rigour of her playing, she prized Bach above all, as did all the Great Russian pianists of her day, but ventured far forward into the music of her own time, and was friends with many dissident artists and composers.
Stalin famously had a soft spot for her Mozart playing; it is thought that this is what prevented her and her troublesome opinions from being dragged off to the gulag. But here we have the ‘Three Bs’: the central-German repertoire to which Yudina always returned and had so much to contribute in the way of iron-fingered discipline over matters of tempo and phrasing and yet an unquenched search for the matter behind the music.The set takes its cue from a thrilling, unyielding Chromatic Fantasy and concludes with some artless yet heartfelt encores of Schubert. In an age of hype, there will always be room for Maria Yudina.
“I found listening to her recordings an intense experience full of pleasure and of awe at her abilities. The two Beethoven sonatas nos. 5 and 32 are full of brilliance which highlights her aim of serving the composer and their music before anything else.”
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