Katia and Marielle Labèque
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THE OBSERVER, 15th May 2011
Gershwin called Rhapsody in Blue a "musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, of our metropolitan madness" – an ideal description of a work which, even now, epitomises the birth of American music ... It may come as a surprise to learn he scored it for two pianos, with orchestration provided later by Ferde Grofé. The Labèque sisters give a relaxed, louche, smoky but beautifully lean performance.

THE INDEPENDANT, 29th April 2011 | Andy Gill (4 stars)

Rhapsody in Blue & West Side Story (KML 1121)

One misses the opening clarinet glissando to "Rhapsody in Blue", of course, but thereafter they furnish enough dextrous drama to satisfy, with delightful little jazzy touches, while the re-statement of the theme as a cakewalk is entirely in keeping with the mood and momentum of the piece. Although stuffed with great tunes, it's the less well-known "Rock Blues" that particularly impresses, for the way the Labèques slant it to bring out the echoes of Gershwin, making the programme a harmonious whole.

Corriere del Ticimo, 14. October 2010 | Alberto Cima

Le sorelle Labèque hanno offerto un'esecuzione suadente, ricca di spunti ritmici e afflati melodici, indici di una estrema professionalità e non communi doti interpretative. Nei due Nocturnes debussyani, di stile impressionistico, emergono i più sottili moti dell'anima. L'interpretazione ha messo in luce un'inspirazione coloristica die grande intensità. (...) Eppure Katia e marielle Labèque hanno ottenuto una sonorità incredibile: dal 'pianomissimo' al 'mezzo piano', 'piano' e 'fortissimo', calibrando ogni nota. Straordinario e irrepetibile.

Telegraph.co.uk, 30 August 2010 | Ivan Hewitt

Then the irrepressible and apparently ageless Labèque sisters sashayed on stage for Poulenc’s Two Piano Concerto. It’s their party piece, but it hasn’t become routine, and they still find the music’s lonely moments of pathos as well as its saucy wit.

(Edinburgh Festival, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Robin Ticciati)

Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2010 | Mark Swed

"McGegan, Labèques and Mozart at the Hollywood Bowl "

There is a lot of teasing and one-upmanship between the pianists, and it would be hard to imagine a duo more suited to this music than the glamorous Labèque sisters, who have been playing together for at least half a century. They performed from memory, trills and scales rolling from one piano to the other as if a single instrument and player. But there was also plenty of willfully individual display, and in the slow movement, they achieved a unified lovely, divine dignity. While I am not always a fan of the video aspect to the Bowl, the occasional use of a split screen to show the sisters was inspired and needn't have been only occasional.

El Pais, 07.06.2010 | Julián Corrillo
[...] la Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia y las hermanas Labéque, que demostraron por qué son consideradas mundialmente como uno de los mejores dúos de piano. Su perfecta compenetración trasciende del detalle técnico -escalas compartidas de perfecta sincronización e idéntico color- a la comunión de concepto [...] Realmente electrizante.

Los Angeles Times, 19.1.2009 | Mark Swed
[...] the Labèques, fabulously dressed, were fabulous soloists, reading each other’s minds as they became a single super pianist.

New York Times online, 1.12.2008 | Allan Kozinn
The French duo-pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque, now based in Italy and running their own eclectic record label, play Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos (K. 448) with elegance and vitality. And in Schubert’s “Andantino Varié” (D. 823) their gestures and timbres are so closely matched that they sound like a single player.

L’Express, 30.10.2008 | Denis de Ceuninck
Katia et Marielle Labèque dispensaient là un bienfaisant air du large et Schubert leur convent si bien. […] Le jeu de Katia et Marielle Labèque est d’une homogénéité impressionante, toujours la fougue ou l’enthousiasme individuel est subordonné à l’unité supérieure de la musique.

EXPERIMUSIC, September 2008 | KS
The meeting of Mayte Martín, one of Spain’s most popular voices, with established nonconformist pianists Katia & Marielle Labéque is certainly an appetizing prospect.[...] With ‘De Fuego y de Agua’, the trio has created a body of work that takes cues from traditional pieces and have combined them with their own stylistically unique compositions to deliver a vivid and emotional collection of songs. The talent and capability of those involved is beyond reproach and each song wrings with an underlying emotional, an intangible romanticism that is as joyfully effervescent as it is dark.

New York Times, 1.6.2008 | Allan Kozinn
In this new collection of Schubert and Mozart works, their playing is as vital as ever, but the bright glare that was once a signature of their sound has given way to greater subtlety, even delicacy. [...]they match their timbres and gestures so exactly that they sound like a single pianist.

BBC Music Magazine, April 2008
[Mozart/Schubert CD] Katia and MArielle Labèque find exactly the right tone for both these pieces.

HMV Choice, 04/04 2008 | Michael Quinn
[Mozart/Schubert CD KML1117] Another strong offering from the Labèque siblings [...] Caught between the declamatory obligations of the concert hall and the hushd intimacy of the salon, it is a work of dark, forlorn beauty and the Labèques play with an absorbing sensitivity. [...] The Labèques dispatch both with a refined and altogether becoming panache, each sister perfectly matched to the other in a creation of effortless grace. A perfect pairing.

November 2007 | GRAMOPHONE | Ivan March

Te sisters are sensational.... This combination of CD and DVD is surely the shape of things to come. Le me first say that (on CD or DVD) the performances of these key Stravinsky works are outstanding in every way,bringing out all the originality, wit and character of the unique keyboard writing, to say nothing of its moment of audacity. The performance of Debussy’s “En blanc et noir” makes a contrasting centrepiece of equal distinction, dazzlingly colouristic. A CD to recommend unreservedly, in vividly sound.

The Sunday Times, 11 May 2007 | Classical CD of the week, Hugh Canning
For their first album on their own label, the Labèque sisters return to Ravel – specifically, in the Rapsodie Espagnole and Boléro, to their roots in the region of France closest to Spain. The Rapsodie is perhaps Ravel’s best-known work for two pianos, and they play Boléro in a two-piano version made by Ravel, but adapted by themselves and the Basque composer Michel Sendrez to include Basque sounds: the atabal, a small drum; the txepetsxa, a tiny instrument, made out of a walnut shell, that imitates the sound of a wren; and a ttun-ttun, a drum with “sympathetic” strings. The arrangement works well, and these Iberian-inspired works frame a programme chosen to show off the permutations of the sisters’ double act: Marielle plays the Menuet antique, Katia the rarely heard solo Prélude, and they unite at one keyboard for the Mother Goose Suite – a performance of brilliance, especially in the Tom Thumb and Empress of the Pagodas movements – and a four-hands arrangement of Pavane pour une infante défunte. The Labèques’ experience in this repertoire is second to none today, and they launch their label with panache.

The Times, 11 May 2007 | Ravel, Geoff Brown
Thirty years ago the Labèque sisters, Katia and Marielle, had novelty on their side. They were young, French, the epitome of eccentric chic. With an offhand, offbeat wit they sat at adjoining grand pianos, loping through the two-piano repertoire. However grey the surrounding concert, they always fizzed.

The trouble is, one got used to them. The world grew older. So did they. Time for midlife recalibration, then; time for them to start their own label, KML Recordings, developing projects for which major companies might not wish their signature on the dotted line. Other releases will crossbreed different music. They plan a concept album, Across the Universe of Language. But the first offering is core classical, a Ravel recital, and it’s spectacular.

Nothing unusual in the repertoire, true. But the slant they take, the vivid performances and the recording’s generous halo put this CD on a shelf apart. The recital takes a trip to the Labèques’ childhood, to the folk rhythms of the Basque country where both they and Ravel were born. Baby Ravel left for Parisafter three months, but the Labèques find the Basque residue everywhere. Take the farandole’s kicking rhythms in the Rhapsodie Espagnole,or the Dionysian overkill of Ravel’s two-piano version of Boléro, enlarged with Basque percussion instruments here.

Whether charging ahead or limpidly languishing, pianissimo, the Labèques provide a remarkable range of colours. Clattering at high speed, they still give us a rainbow (try the Rhapsodie’s fandango); while for quiet kaleidoscopic beauty, nothing tops their fairy garden in the Mother Goose suite. Aside from the colours, note as well the duo’s intuitive, sisterly feeling for interplay and ensemble. They can tease rhythms, coordination and each other without once derailing Ravel’s progress.

Good times easily dominate; and as their very slow-burn Boléro mounts, with exotic instruments of wood, steel and skin rising from whispers to giant thumps, you want to roll out the red carpet. Welcome back, Katia and Marielle. Where have you been?

San Francisco Chronicles, May 2007 | Duo pianists bring Poulenc piece to light, Joshua Kosman
Thursday afternoon was a beautiful day for duo-piano concertos over in
Davies Symphony Hall -- so beautiful that in good baseball fashion, they
decided to play two.
Appearing with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony were
Katia and Marielle Labèque, the mop-maned French sisters who have made a
specialty of the repertoire for back-to-back pianos. It´s not a vast body
of work, so the doubleheader was a rare treat, combining familiar fare
with a dazzling rarity.
...
What local audiences have been missing is a three-movement stretch of pure
comic gold, graced with fizzy bursts of melody and lightning changes of
mood. And the Labèque sisters delivered it all with a welcome blend of
theatricality and affection.
...
The Mozart thrived on the Labèques´ undeniable vividness and dash.
The slow movement emerged as a lyrical showpiece, and the finale found
the two pianists trading phrases with vim.

New York Times
The best piano duet in front of an audience today

Classic CD
The French sisters who over 20 years have revolutionized music for two pianos and four hands.

Pianist
Katia and Marielle Labeque have led the field in more than 20 years of classical and jazz piano duo playing

Newsday
Labèque sisters, the most visible piano duo on the planet

Classic FM
The most celebrated of piano duos

The New York Sun
If duo pianists are required, who else but the Labèque sisters, Katia and Marielle?

Seattle Post
Labeque sisters are spellbinding at their keyboards´
The resulting mesmeric performance gripped with its energy, incredible technique and beautiful flow and phrase-shaping

Baltimore Sun
The Labeques did their part for the cause of historical authenticity.