Youra Guller, what a gorgeous pianist! A student of the renowned French pedagogue, Isidor Philipp, she was one of the truly magnificent women pianists. Her career spanned most of the 20th Century, and though the Nazis and subsequent illness curtailed her performing, she continued to play and made her New York debut in 1971 at the age of 76.
Youra Guller is sadly neclected today and little more remains of her glorious pianism than a handful of recordings: Chopin Mazurkas and Nocturnes from 1956, The Chopin Barcarolle from 1960, the Liszt b minor sonata from 1965, the last two Beethoven sonatas from 1973, and from 1975 a selection of pieces by Scarlatti, Rameau, Couperin, Bach and two Spanish Dances by Granados that are beyond heavenly.
When playing like this is possible, one cannot help but wonder why we are encouraged to listen to so many pianists who have precious little to contribute to the art. Feast your ears on these miraculous performances.
Chopin Mazurkas Recorded in 1956
Mazurka No. 2 in c sharp minor Op 6 n2
Mazurka No. 7 in f minor Op 7 n3
Mazurka No. 13 in a minor Op 17 n4
Mazurka No. 20 in D flat Major Op 30 n3
Mazurka No. 23 in D Major Op 33 n2
Mazurka No. 28 in B Major Op 41 n3
Mazurka No. 32 in c sharp minor Op 50 n3
Mazurka No. 34 in C Major Op 56 n2
Mazurka No. 40 in f minor Op 63 n2
Mazurka No. 46 in C Major Op 68 n1
Mazurka No. 49 in f minor Op 68 n4
Chopin Nocturnes recorded in the 1950s
4 in F Major, Op 15 n1 (1959)
7 in c sharp minor, Op 27 n1 (1956)
8 in D flat Major, Op 27 n2 (1956)
9 in B Major, Op 32 n1 (1959)
13 in c minor, Op 48 n1 (1956)
Chopin Barcarolle Opus 60 recorded in 1960
Youra Guller's Chopin is divine as is evidenced by her performances of these Mazurkas and Nocturnes. She is also reported to have recorded an Etude and the fourth Ballade. Perhaps these will turn up. Until then we will have to make do with the Mazurkas and a few Nocturnes and imagine the rest.
The following recording of the Liszt Sonata gives us an idea of the virtuosic side of Guller's playing, ever at the service of musical expression. Hers is a haunting vision of this music.
Liszt Sonata in b minor Recorded in 1965
Youra Guller's Beethoven is every bit as extraordinary. Here she plays the Op 110 and 111 piano sonatas. To many, myself included, these final two sonatas are transcendent Beethoven. She does not disappoint. Considered one the the finest interpreters of Beethoven, this is what the philosopher, art historian and Beethoven biographer Romain Rolland had to say of her: "Would you express to Madame Youra Guller my respectful remembrance, and the hope which I have of being able to hear her again in one of the last sonatas of Beethoven, of which she remains, for me, the unique interpreter in our time."
And what follows these monuments is a group of the most delicious encores imaginable.
Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat Major Op 110 Recorded in 1973
i Moderato cantabile molto espressivo ii Scherzo: allegro molto
iii Adagio, ma non troppo Fuga: Allegro, ma non troppo
Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 32 in c minor Op 111 Recorded in 1973
i Maestoso - Allegro con brio e appassionato
ii Arietta. Adagio molto semplice e cantabile (beginning)
ii Arietta. Adagio molto semplice e cantabile (conclusion)
Cadenzas for Beethoven Piano Concerto 4 by Guller and others for the first Movement: 1 Youra Guller - 2 Walter Gieseking (4:47) - 3 Robert Casadesus (7:13) - 4 York Bowen (9:27) - 5 Guiomar Novaes (11:50) - 6 Josef Palenicek (14:51) - 7 Maria Yudina (17:35)
for the third Movement: 1 Cor de Groot (22:55) - 2 Wilhelm Backhaus (23:55) - 3 York Bowen (25:15) - 4 Robert Casadesus (25:58) - 5 Guiomar Novaes (26:34) - 6 Josef Palenicek (27:11) - 7 Maria Yudina (28:11)
Bach/Liszt Fantasia and Fugue in g minor Recorded in 1975