It’s valuable to revisit this very late example of Youra Guller’s pianism. I’ve reviewed a Tahra disc devoted to some up-and-down Chopin performances (see review
) so that’s also the place to go for biographical matters. Her life was without doubt remarkable. Other performances are also contained in the same company’s series devoted to French pianists (see review
) which brings us Guller’s beautiful account of the Chopin Mazurkas.
Here we have something different. They are recordings made in September 1975, five or so years before her death. The studio ensures that things are rather more consistent than the first Tahra disc cited above. The finger-slips are not to me especially worrying, and are to be heard in the context of engaged and strong performances given at the age of eighty.
Her Bach-Liszt enshrines elevated playing, a touch free and textually thickened in places. But there is clarity in her fugues, a quality that is sometimes occluded via her pedalling in the Preludes. This is perhaps an inevitable corollary of her age, but it hardly limits admiration for her playing as such. She evinces charm in the Mateo Albeniz Sonata, a very brief and delightful souvenir of her art on the smallest canvas imaginable. She is equally persuasive and imaginative in the Couperin, one of a sequence of baroque pieces for keyboard to which she brings precision and – in the case of the Rameau – pellucid dynamics.
The Chopin Ballade is strongly argued but rather fallible with quite a few missed notes; the Etude may have given her some problems too. One feels her tire throughout the Ballade performance and things, both digital and rhythmic, tend to suffer accordingly. Still, we can end with her Granados. Andaluza
is imbued with the spirit of wistful melancholy and though the Oriental
takes time to get going, it gets there in the end.
This is a good souvenir of Guller’s art. Despite its date it gives a reasonable indication of her repertoire interests, and the quality of her musicianship. The recording quality is reasonable for the time, the performances imbued with spirit.