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Yara Bernette (piano)
Piano Recitals in Germany
rec. 1961-1971
MELOCLASSIC MC1057 [79:02]

This new release from Meloclassic marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of pianist Yara Bernette (1920-2002). Although born in Boston Massachusetts, she was raised in Brazil, where she studied the piano with her uncle, JosÚ Kliass, a renowned Brazilian musician. She made her debut in SŃo Paulo at the Municipal Theatre. Her career launched, she began touring, beginning in New York. Her sojourns took her to the Americas and Europe. She taught for two decades in Hamburg continuing, at the same time, to be a popular draw as a soloist in the concert halls of Europe and the Americas. She died in SŃo Paulo at the age of eighty-two.

Internet searches yield very little in terms of a discography. Her Rachmaninoff Preludes have been released by Eloquence, and there’s an obscure Brazilian CD of Concertos by Medtner and Helm. All the more welcome are these live radio recordings from Meloclassic taped between 1961 and 1971.

I’m pleased that Bernette opted for the Partita No 2 in C minor, which together with No. 6 are the finest in my view. On the evidence of this 1961 performance from Hamburg, she had an instinctive feel and grasp of Bach’s keyboard works. Immaculate finger work, tasteful ornamentation and beautiful touch and tone all combine to project the sublime richness of this music. Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor, K396/K385f was left unfinished at the composer’s death and was completed by Maximilian Stadler (1748–1833). Bernette etches a dark landscape, and adds turbulence to the ascending arpeggio. There’s much pathos and grief in the reading, expressed by the many chromatic episodes and tortuous harmonic shifts.

In a recital, also from Hamburg the following year, she performed Beethoven’s penultimate Piano Sonata in A flat, Op 110. The opening chords are poised and impeccably voiced and create a magical atmosphere. She keeps tight rhythmical control in the Allegro molto. The Adagio is wondrous, brooding and imbued with sombre despair. Confident abandon is how I would describe the Fuga, with all the contrapuntal strands expertly teased out. The twelve short dance movements which comprise Robert Schumann’s Papillon date from 1831, and were inspired by Jean Paul’s novel Flegeljahre. The author was a German Romantic writer, best known for his humorous novels and stories. The pieces are festive, playful, light-hearted and witty, and Bernette encapsulates the character of each, wonderfully capturing their moods and wide dynamic contrasts.

The performance of Prokofiev’s brief one-movement Third Sonata dates from October 1971. Bernette pulls all the stops out and gives her all in this truly pianist score, keeping the forward momentum up throughout. The performance is nothing short of breathtaking in its energetic outbursts of violence. The Villa-Lobos and GuÓrnieri pieces are delightful, benefiting from the suave nuance and rubato Bernette instils into them.

This welcome release captures the refined artistry of a pianist largely forgotten. Michael Waiblinger’s notes are excellent as usual, supplemented by some interesting photographic material. I wonder if there’s more live material in the archives?

Stephen Greenbank
BACH: Partita No 2 in C minor, BWV 826
Recorded ∙ 04 January 1961 ∙ Hamburg ∙ Studio ∙ NDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording

MOZART: Fantasia in C minor, KV 396/385f
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No 31 in A-flat major, Op 110
Recorded ∙ 24 January 1962 ∙ Hamburg ∙ Studio ∙ NDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording

SCHUMANN: Papillons, Op 2
VILLA-LOBOS: Ch˘ros No 5
VILLA-LOBOS: O Polichinello
VILLA-LOBOS: A Lenda do caboclo
GU└RNIERI: Danša negra
Recorded ∙ 25 February 1964 ∙ Stuttgart ∙ Villa K ∙ SDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording

PROKOFIEV: Piano Sonata No 3 in A minor, Op 28
Recorded ∙ 06 October 1971 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Studio 3 ∙ HR ∙ Radio Studio Recording



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