Bernhard Gueller
A selection of reviews

A special word about Bernhard Gueller. His role in this concert (Johan Botha and Friends Opera Gala August 13, 2016) went way beyond that of conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra bringing as he always does that special ability to bring out the best in the musicians as apparent in the orchestra’s second half solo, the famous Intermezzo from the Cavalleria Rusticana.

His podium was so close to the soloists that he was like a caring father at their elbows to guide and support. This was particularly so when Botha was obviously feeling the effects of a hectic schedule in Cape Town so soon after surgery and chemotherapy. Cape Times August 2016

Bernhard Gueller’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony left me speechless. Conducting from memory, he seemed to have every member of the orchestra under his direct control. The brass section’s playing was particularly impressive and precise.

Rudolph Mare in What’s on in Cape Town June 2016


It is always a pleasure to watch Gueller's hand and arm movements. He conducts with total surrender to the music and passion and it appears that he inspires the entire orchestra (Tchaikovsky Symphony no 5 with the CPO)

Die Burger  June 2016

Under the inspiring and commanding direction of veteran maestro, Bernhard Gueller, the (KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic) orchestra’s fine attention to detail, careful balancing of intricately constructed textures, sonic proportioning of chords, and innate sense of ensemble culminated in an electrifying performance of Dvořák’s Symphony No 8 in G major."

Cue magazine, Grahamstown, July 2015

Gueller and the orchestra all deserved the audience’s enthusiastic response for the two Respighi tone poems, conducted by Gueller with calm assurance.  Cape Times  November 2015

The gala concert on Thursday evening deserved five stars. Bernhard Gueller was the conductor of the CApe Town Philharrmonic Orchestra and the celebrated Italian pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi was the soloist.  The only other concert that received this accolade (five stars) was the Naspers Centenery concert with Joshua Bell as soloist, also conducted by Gueller. Die Burger November 2015

The performance of Rachmaninov Symphony no 2 was the finest he had ever heard. 
Die Burger, Cape Town August 2014

"With its (Stravinsky’s Dances Concertante’s ) changes of metre and its capricious phrasing, it’s a bit of a nightmare for the conductor. But not for Gueller, who has a genius for underlining the momentum of a phrase into a model of clarity and intelligibility."
CHRONICLE HERALD,  Halifax, November 24, 2012

"But it takes a Gueller with the epiphanic tip of his baton to transmit the extraordinary heat and light of that gargantuan thematic rush-hour directly to the musicians."

CHRONI CLE HERALD, Halifax, May 3, 2011

"Gueller has drilled the JPO over the past half decade in the classical idiom. They now bear the fruits of a remarkable partnership."

THE STAR, Johannesburg, June 3, 2011

"(Contemporary Canadian composer Jacques) Hetu's unfailing sense of drama and balance of events, perfectly understood by Gueller and communicated to the strings, winds, brass and timpani, proved a fascinating exercise for the ear."
CHRONICLE HERALD, Halifax, February 6, 2010

"Gueller has a fine conception of this symphony (Sibelius Symphony no 2). His relaxed tempo and pulsing rhythms spoke eloquently of frozen evergreen forests ... (and led) to the overwhelming concluding climax, all well shaped and persuasively presented by Gueller and the orchestra."  
BUFFALO NEWS, Buffalo, December 5, 2009

"The evening was crowned by Gueller's awe-inspiring account of Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony, the 'Little Russian'. Felicitous detail, with individually pointed phrasing and rhythm. Organically built climaxes added to the excitement."
 SA JEWISH CHRONICLE, Johannesburg, September 2009

"Gueller waited till almost the end of the concert before telling of Tchaikovsky's last days. Audience members in the balcony stood up and leaned on the railing to get a better view. The story, delivered quietly in Gueller's accented and cultivated English, held them spellbound.
CHRONICLE HERALD,  Halifax, May  2009

"Gueller brought all his musical skills to this music (Queen), creating nuances and balance and cooking the tempos on hot and high for an explosive series of performances." HALIFAX CHRONICLE HERALD, Halifax, March 2009

"The playing of the final work, Haydn's Symphony No. 104 (the London Symphony), sparkled with intimate detail not often heard so clearly in the many available performances of this 18th century favourite. Gueller's pacing and management of the flow in this music were right on the mark, neither over controlled nor understated, but, with the sensitive responsivity of the players, done in a way to lead to a perfect understanding of the music. The final movement capped it with a very lively, very bubbly, and very colourful performance that tickled the ears as champagne tickles the nose."
CHRONICLE HERALD, Halifax, March 2007

"Gueller was an utterly enthralling figure on the podium, unleashing prodigious power and dramatic urgency in Mussorgsky's Night on Bare Mountain, James Ledger's new fanfare, In this Day and Age, and most of all in Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. Tempos were fast, contrasts rugged, but more than anything else there was a sense of the orchestra being pushed to a higher purpose. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra  responded in big measure, but seemed unaccustomed to direction as commanding as this. The answer is simple: invite him back ..."

"Bernhard Gueller led the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, playing as if unleashed, in a performance of Bruckner which in terms of urgency and artistic merit could hardly have been be surpassed. It is a long time since we have heard this orchestra play with such strength and unity. Gueller succeeded in maintaining continuous tension throughout the enormous arches of Bruckner's music, something which few conductors succeed in doing. Each thematic climax and new surge of tension was made to seem, and was heard as, part of a larger development... A few seconds' silence in the Beethoven Hall marked the end of this performance. Unexpectedly, we had been shown what music can mean. We can only hope that we will have the chance to experience Bernhard Gueller at the helm of this orchestra again ..."

"Having already conducted Casablanca's music so effectively, Gueller gave of his best in the second half with 'Pictures at an Exhibition' - that explosive mixture of Mussorgsky's inspiration and Ravel's masterly orchestration. This completely orthodox interpretation possessed all the required strength and spectacle. It was a noteworthy performance on the part of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, both in terms of brilliant sound from the full orchestra and in terms of individual playing. At the end, after the monumental Great Gate of Kiev, the audience rose to its feet in a standing ovation ..."
EL PAIS, Barcelona

"The touch and effect was remarkable, and was made possible by Gueller's control over the orchestra. At their best, Gueller and the orchestra filled every nook and cranny of the hall just as Wagner's spirit filled the performance."

"Gueller, as ringmaster, had no need of a whip. A gesture, a look, a momentary infusion of energy for a new entry was all he needed to articulate his sure and detailed musical intentions."

"Among the performance's assets were a precise, robust string sound, idiomatic wind playing and, perhaps, more than anything, the vigour and intelligence of Gueller's interpretation."

"Gueller's programming, let alone his masterly leadership from the podium, gave us one of the most strikingly interesting concerts in years."

"The famous New York Times critic Harold Schonberg told me in a 1978 interview: “There are no bad orchestras, only bad conductors.' In this instance, the orchestra's performance was superlative, just as its superlative conductor Bernhard Gueller directed it."

"Conductor Bernhard Gueller controlled the mighty volume resonating from the large ensemble under his baton, giving it the requisite expressiveness – no small achievement, especially in the boisterous last movement. ... the orchestral playing was irreproachable, with tight ensemble and no cues missed."
 CAPE TIMES, Cape Town