Press: Rhapsody In Blue - Westside Story                                

01/12/2011

All Music

Basque sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque have recorded a great range of duo-piano repertory, but an early recording of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (originally scored for two pianos) helped make their reputation. Here they return to the Rhapsody with a performance that shows their utter mastery and adds insights gained over a quarter century of performing. The Rhapsody in this version is all about flair and verve, which this crowd-pleasing duo has in abundance. But the biggest addition is the programming of a suite from West Side Story, arranged for duo piano by Irwin Kostal, the musical's original orchestrator. He made this version for the Labèque sisters at the request of Leonard Bernstein himself, and it's a uniquely enjoyable version of the score that seems to suggest Bernstein as Gershwin's natural successor at several points. The arrangement is filled with Latin percussion, vocal shouts, and other sound effects, and the Labèques enter into its high spirits. A fine introduction to a pair of international stars, enjoyable from beginning to end.

James Manheim