Süher Pekinel, along with her identical twin sister Güher, is part of the most celebrated piano duos of the modern era. They have been performing together since early childhood, though both have developed different solo repertory. As duo pianists they have performed a wide range of works from J.S. Bach (including jazz versions of his music) to Bernstein and beyond. Süher has claimed to be the more deferential of the two, but, oddly, not in musical matters, where her views often prevail. While the two are look-alikes, they dress differently, and Süher has a slightly lighter hair color. The arrangement of the Pekinels' pianos during performance is unusual: the instruments are neither nested nor alongside each other, but the piano closest to the audience is placed slightly ahead, so that neither sister can make eye contact. The Pekinels have recorded for such labels as DG, Warner Classics, Chandos, and Arthaus Musik. They have regularly toured throughout Europe, the U.K., U.S., and Asia.
Süher (pronounced soo-HAIR) Pekinel was born on March 29, 1953, in Istanbul, Turkey. She received her first piano lessons from her mother, an accomplished pianist. Süher gave her first public performance with her sister at six. Three years later the Pekinels' orchestral debut came with the Ankara Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert broadcast over Turkish radio.
Süher's educational background mirrors her sister's: they studied at the Paris Conservatory and Musikhochschule Frankfurt, and then had further studies at the Curtis Institute and Juilliard. Among their teachers were Yvonne Loriod, Adele Marcus, Leon Fleisher, Claudio Arrau, and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. During her student years, Süher, as a soloist, shared first prize with Güher at the 1971 German National Piano Competition. They went on to win further prizes, both separately and together, and in 1978 graduated from Juilliard and (concurrently) from the Musikhochschule Frankfurt.
They then launched their international careers, and among their earliest recordings was the 1981 DG LP of the Rachmaninov suites for two pianos, Opp. 5 and 17. It was in 1984 when their careers took off: that year Herbert von Karajan invited them to play at the Salzburg Festival, where their success led to many return appearances. Their 1986 New York debut, with the New York Philharmonic, in a performance of the Mozart Concerto for two pianos, K. 365, was another great success.
In 1991 Süher and Güher were both given National Artist awards by the Turkish government. Later that decade the two began performing some jazz arrangements of J.S. Bach works with the Jacques Loussier Trio, which led to release of their popular CD Take Bach in 2000.
In the new century Süher has been involved in educational projects with her sister, among them the implementation of the Orff Schulwerk Project in Turkish schools. The sisters have remained busy in their duo concerts as well and in the recording studio: their 2009 Arthaus Musik release, Güher and Süher Pekinel Live in Concert, was their first DVD, and featured works by Mozart, Poulenc, Milhaud, Brahms, and Lutoslawski.