Katia & Marielle Labèque

Piano

Schubert Club Performances:

  • October 16, 1985
  • October 9, 1987

Katia & Marielle Labèque

These dynamic sisters from the French Basque country started playing duets as young children when their mother, a well-known teacher, put them together in front of a piano: “It was a real disaster, because we kept hitting each other.” They eventually sorted out that problem and, after graduating in 1968 from the ultra-prestigious Paris Conservatoire, paired up as contemporary music specialists. But by 1980, when their recording of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue became a worldwide bestseller, the Labèques were branching out into everything from Baroque to jazz, ragtime and beyond. Soon they had achieved pop-star status. Here, another pop star, their friend Madonna, introduces them and a wildly enthusiastic impromptu performance of the Gershwin Rhapsody – a work that, unsurprisingly, figured in their first Schubert Club program in 1985:

One of the Labèque Sisters’ most magical interpretations is of Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, which they programmed in their second St. Paul recital two years later. This is the final movement, “The Fairy Garden”, in a BBC television recording from 2015. The range of colors they reveal in this music lets you forget the composer’s wonderful later orchestration:

More spectacular Ravel from the Labèques: the ending of his Rapsodie espagnole in a live recording from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw:

From the same Amsterdam recital, music by Philip Glass, who wrote his Double Piano Concerto for the Labèque Sisters:

Artist note by Richard Evidon

From the Schubert Club Archive:

Signed photo of the Labèque Sisters from 1985

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Promotional poster for the sisters’ 1987 concert

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Newspaper image of the Labèque Sisters prior to their 1987 concert

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Program from the sisters’ 1987 concert

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Picture of the Labèque Sisters featured in the Twin Cities Directory in October of 1987

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Labèque Sisters greeting Nancy Weyerhauser after their 1987 concert

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Review of the sisters’ 1987 concert in the St. Paul Pioneer Press

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Signed photo of the Labèque Sisters, ca. 1987

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Artist Archive