Throughout her long and distinguished, if insufficiently acknowledged career, Valerie Tryon has remained true to her own lights. Virtuoso teasers such as Balakirev’sIslamey and Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit fell effortlessly within her grasp and here in Franck’s Symphonic Variations, sandwiched between two Spanish favourites of the repertoire, she commences a series of recordings for the Somm label. Accompanied by a ringing endorsement from Somm’s Siva Oke (‘Valerie became the yardstick by which I measured most other pianists over the years’) she once more displays her cardinal qualities, her immaculate grace and fluency. Nothing is pressured or exaggerated, everything falls naturally into place. And if others – notably Alicia de Larrocha and Martha Argerich – play with greater urgency and intensity, a sharper sense of profile in Falla’s ever-enchanting Nights in the Gardens of Spain, there is no gainsaying Tryon’s more intimate style and authority.
Polish rather than ardour characterise her encores continuing the Spanish theme (Granados’s ‘The Lover and the Nightingale’ and Debussy’s ‘Soirée dans Grenade’), but in the Bach-Busoni D minor Toccata and Fugue she finds her best form in a masterly performance and with gloriously full-blooded final pages. All three encores are issued on record for the first time; and all this makes a fine follow-up to Tryon’s memorable Mozart concerto disc (APR, 3/10) and a compensation for the lack in this country of a record of the Chopin Scherzos and Ballades, praised to the skies by New York’s Harold C Schonberg. Kenneth Woods provides a sterling partnership and Somm’s sound and balance are as natural as the performances.