Güher Pekinel

Güher Pekinel


• Born 1953


Güher Pekinel shares the spotlight with her identical twin sister Süher to form one of the most famous duo-piano teams in modern times. The two are critically acclaimed for their interpretations of a range of works in the two-piano literature by such composers as J.S. Bach, Mozart (including the Concerto for 3 pianos), Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruch, Rachmaninov, Poulenc, Milhaud, Dutilleux, Berd Alois Zimmermann, and others. Güher, who has slightly darker hair, is the more dominant of the two except in matters of musical interpretation, an area she usually cedes to her sister. During performance the sisters neither face each other (initially they did) nor sit side-by-side, but play with one piano placed slightly ahead of the other. Yet, without sight of each other they typically perform in much the same style, with similar dynamics, mostly the same sense of balance, and even similar facial reactions to the music. But Güher and her sister are geographically apart most of the time, though each has a residence in London. They have toured throughout Europe, the U.K., U.S., and Asia, and have made numerous recordings over the years for such labels as Warner Classics, Teldec, and Arthaus Musik.

Güher (pronounced goo-HAIR) Pekinel was born in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 29, 1953. Her mother was a talented pianist who gave her lessons from early childhood. Güher progressed quickly, like her sister, and the two gave their first public concert together at six. They became well-known in Turkey when they performed in a radio broadcast concert with the Ankara Philharmonic Orchestra three years later.

After studies at the Paris Conservatory and the Musikhochschule Frankfurt, Güher, along with her sister, studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia on recommendation from Rudolf Serkin. Meanwhile, Güher, who also studied solo repertory, entered the 1971 German National Piano Competition, and finished in a tie for first prize with Süher! Güher and her sister went on to earn master's degrees at Juilliard (1978), where Adele Marcus was among their teachers. They also studied with Claudio Arrau and Leon Fleisher.

Güher and her sister were busy in duo concert work when in 1984 Herbert von Karajan invited them to perform at the Salzburg Festival. They were a great success there and made many return appearances. The two debuted in New York City on March 6, 1986, with New York Philharmonic, under Zubin Mehta, in an acclaimed performance of the Mozart Concerto for two pianos, K. 365.

By the 1990s the pair were well known internationally from recordings like the 1992 Teldec CD of the Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals and Poulenc's Concerto for two pianos. In the new century Güher, with Süher, has been involved in several educational projects, including the reinvigoration of music education in Turkey through such programs as the Orff Schulwerk Project. Among Güher's more acclaimed recordings is the 2011 Bach Jazz DVD on Arthaus Musik, which features the Jacques Loussier Trio and conductor Colin Davis, in works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Rachmaninov.