At the Lucerne Festival, Pekinel Sisters presents different possibilities for a special night with pianos

Thomas Schacher, November 2017

At this years’ Lucerne piano Festival, the Turkish Twin Sisters Güher and Süher Pekinel, in the concert business for forty years, communicate instead with audience, rather with each other and themselves. When they play Mozart or Ravel, seated one behind the other, at both their grand pianos, they are situated in a cosmic world, where they need no audience.

They conceptualised a programme for Lucerne that completely forgoes popular hits. The first section was devoted to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and began with the “Fantasia for Musical Organ” in F minor for four hands, Fugue in C minor K. 608 arranged for two pianos and the compositionally expansive Sonata K. 448 in D major, Mozart’s only sonata for this instrumentation. At this cheerful and gallantly composition, the Pekinels’ skills are demonstrated in their purest form. Hypnotic rhythmic coordination conjoins there with playful lucidity and a perfectly combined two-way reciprocally dialog.

The second part of the programme then leads to France and Spain. Rather hard-to-digest material forms of Claude Debussy’s “En blanc et noir” (In black and white), composed in the war year of 1915. The second movement pursues unusual paths with its blend of ghostly passages, chorale quotes, and march rhythms. Other pianists would have not emphasized such contrasts, but such elimination do not suit the Pekinel Sisters.

From his “Danses Andaluses,” Manuel Infante’s “Sentimiento” leades into a folkloric world. The connection between France and Spain is then accomplished through Maurice Ravel’s “Rapsodie espagnole” (Spanish Rhapsody). The afore-mentioned skills of both pianists are joined by a phenomenal sense of soundcolour. The prelude and the three dance movements lacks no refinement; all effects are exactly controlled. Sometimes one misses a breakaway in such a harmony.