The importance of Beethoven’s sonatas as of a sort of “creative laboratory” in which the composer developed the fundamentals of his style is generally recognized. It was in this form that Beethoven mastered the dialectical method, moulded his themes and reached unprecedented heights in the development of musical ideas and images.
Many of his piano sonatas were heralds of his symphonic works, anticipating on a smaller scale that which later found new and monumental expression in his symphonies.
Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 (1804) with unusual fervency embodies the idea of the joy of living, when man’s bright mood blends with the wonder of awakening nature. Maybe precisely this feeling explains the Sonata’s title «Aurora», which was given to it not by Beethoven himself, but which is most fitting to the moods and images it portrays.
It was in this Sonata that Beethoven first exploited folk elements so dimensionally and in this it comes close to the «Eroica» Symphony, which was also concluded in 1804. The folk-song basis is more vividly expressed in the lyrical subjects of the «Aurora» (collateral part of the first movement and refrain of the finale)’ than in the sonatas that preceded it. Dance elements are also more definitely pronounced here.
Sonata No. 31 in A-Flat Major, Op. 110 is a lyrical sonata with a profound inner conflict and philosophic depth of the main idea, which can, in general outline, be defined as the overcoming of suffering through the strength of the spirit and the will to live. According to R. Holland, this Sonata bears the stamp of hard physical and moral trials (exacerbation of his ailment, his moral suffering in connection with his nephew Karl, proceedings at law, etc.), which for Beethoven began in the winter of 1820 and continued till September 1821 (the Sonata was finished in December 1821).
Merited Artist of the RSFSR, Professor Yevgeni Malinin was born in Moscow in 1930. He first studied at the Central Music School (class of T. A. Bobovich) and later at the Moscow Conservatory (1948—1953) and post-graduate courses under the guidance of Professor H. H. Neuhaus. When still a student, Y. Malinin won prizes at the II World Festival of Youth and Students in Budapest (1949), at the Chopin International Competition in Warsaw (1949) and the Marguerite Long Competition in Paris (1953).
Yevgeni Malinin’s extensive concert activity goes back to the 50s, when he began widely touring the Soviet Union and gave many concerts in other countries. One foreign review described his performance in the following terms: «Malinin belongs to those rare interpreters-romantics whose strong emotional impulses lean towards integrity and are never liable to overstatement». In 1961 the pianist was made an Academician of the Rome Academy of Artists (Academia della artisti e professionisti).
After his tour, the Finnish newspaper «Helsingjn sanomat» wrote: «The most characteristic features of his playing are: a fascinatingly precise and lively interpretation of rhythm and mastery of sounding, representing the refined Russian Neuhaus school.»