This box set of rare material brings us all the recordings made by French pianist Yvonne Loriod for the Vega company between 1954 and 1963. Loriod’s piano sound was pristine and chiselled while still embracing a wide dynamic range, in the “sec” French style of 20th-century pianists like Magda Tagliaferro and Monique Haas – yet Loriod was also a true virtuoso, tackling difficult contemporary works and mastering the fiercest technical challenges.

Yvonne Loriod

Yvonne Loriod. Photo courtesy of Nigel Simeone/Decca

She was renowned from a young age for her prodigious memory: at 20, she played Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues from memory, and thought nothing of presenting a concert program of the Goldberg Variations followed by Pictures at an Exhibition (both less frequently played then than now).

She is most commonly remembered for her partnership with, and eventual marriage to, the composer Olivier Messiaen. Loriod premiered most of his piano works, including the piano part of the Turangalîla-Symphonie, and the two great solo cycles, Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus, and Catalogue d’Oiseaux. She also made the first recordings of these seminal works and was renowned as a teacher, numbering among her pupils...