“The peerless piano duo Katia and Marielle Labeque are stylish, chic and completely in tune with each other – a winning combination”
“Piano playing superstars”
“Arguably the world’s finest piano duo”
"...perhaps the greatest four hand piano performers out there or maybe ever. A rapturous performances that’s as visual as an audio recording can be" "Killer stuff from the titans of the keyboard."
"The latest from the fabulous piano twins on their own label is a delightful collection of piano works... "
I’ve had a long-standing relationship with the music of Erik Satie. One of my very first reviews for Fanfare was of a four-disc compendium of his piano music for two hands by Jean-Pierre Armengaud on Circé. I panned it (Fanfare 12:5). Shortly after that, I reviewed a quite fine collection of the same on the Forlane label by France Clidat (Fanfare 13:4) which led, over the years, to a host of single-disc reviews of performances by Pascal Rogé on London and Anne Queffelec on Virgin Classics (I still love that recording a whole lot), along with several discs on MDG by Steffen Schleiermacher that I found most uncongenial. To put a rather blunt point on all this, when one considers that, in addition to the discs mentioned above, I have both of Aldo Ciccolini’s forays into this repertoire in my library, I truly believe that I have some idea of Satie’s inimitable language. Indeed, my two daughters, studying piano at the time, overheard Satie for the first time in the course of my preparations for the earliest of those reviews, and became unrepentant Satie junkies, treating me to their quite wondrous—and revealing—personal interpretations of this music on our home piano.
And now add to the list this disc by the Labèque sisters on their own label. My only complaint about it is, as with so many other vanity-press recordings, that the documentation is unclear. As both a radio host and a garden-variety home listener, I have to know at a glance who plays what. No traditional track listing is provided. Relevant information has to be gleaned from the rather sparse text of the liner notes, and my attempts to decipher them accurately have proven fruitless, hence the possible vagaries of the headnote.
That aside, this is an excellent offering that provides a telling cross section of Satie’s œuvre from its most introverted and hauntingly mysterious to its most outrageous. Unlike so many pianists, the Labèque sisters deploy such largely absent devices in this repertoire as rubato. Unlike so many pianists, they are attuned to the timbral subtleties of the music. Their pedaling is both subtle and telling. Some may accuse them of romanticizing this, on the surface, anti-Romantic music, but I think their approach works brilliantly, shedding new light on these scores and making them, their iconoclasm aside, beautiful much in the same way that the current crop of conductors have gotten past the weirdness quotient of so much of Charles Ives’s music, and now show us how sensually beautiful those scores really are.
The highest complement I can give the Labèques is that their performances enticed me into living the moment once again in music that I thought I knew. The sound is up to the best of current standards.