What a sweet idea: the French two piano team of sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque performing works by Debussy and Stravinsky. Although they've recorded one of these pieces before -- who could forget their splendid 1996 Philips recording of Debussy's En blanc et noir? -- this is their first time around on Stravinsky's Concerto, Five Easy Pieces, Three Easy Pieces, Ragtime, Tango, and several other shorter pieces. And the results are wondrous: the Labèques tone is brilliant, their insights are deep, their textures are clear, their tempos are irresistible, their technique is flawless, and, best of all, their ensemble is, for all intents and purposes, telepathic. While there have certainly been great recordings of many of these works before -- who could forget Martha Argerich and Stephen Kovacevich's wildly exciting 1977 recording of En blanc et noir? -- these performances are as good or better than the best and will surely thrill anyone who enjoys music for two pianos in general and this music in particular. Whether they will be as thrilled with the second disc included here, a batch of videos by Tal Rosner accompanying several pieces, will depend on their susceptibility to supremely well-done MTV-style videos. But however listeners feel about the videos or the performances, everyone who appreciates sound will be delighted by the clean, detailed yet still highly evocative digital sound recorded in Ircam in Paris by KML Recordings, the sisters' own label.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Concerto for 2 solo pianos|
|En blanc et noir, for 2 pianos, L. 134|
|Easy Pieces (5) for piano, 4 hands|
|Easy Pieces (3) for piano, 4 hands|
|Les Cinq doigts (The Five Fingers), very easy pieces (8) on 5 notes for piano|