Talent, professionalism and the selection of an exquisite repertoire were the letters of introduction of the duet made up by French pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque, special guests of the Fourth Leo Brouwer Chamber Music Festival.
North America in its Music, name of the show performed by the spectacular interpreters, became a unique opportunity for the Cuban public to appreciate their qualities as musicians when they interpreted renowned works of U.S. composers Philip Glass, George Gershwin y Leonard Bernstein.
The fame preceding the Labeques –who visit Cuba for the first time– is a just acknowledgment to two pianists of impeccable performance who grant a very personal seal to each piece, whether from the classic or popular repertoire.
Katia (1950) y Marielle (1952) received their first piano lessons from their mother, Alda Cecchi, who had been a pupil of the great Marguerite Long.
Since their student years the duo, regarded by the critics as excellent, has received the acknowledgment they today enjoy, and in 1968 won the First Prize of the Paris Conservatory.
The concert opened with the interpretation of Four Movements for Two Pianos, a piece by minimalist composer Glass, and Rhapsody in Blue based on Gershwin’s original score for two pianos.
Hilarious we could say was the French duet’s version of Bernstein’s West Side Story for piano and percussion. The work was conceived as a musical and more than five decades later still captivates a public formed by diverse generations.
An enviable technique and the “tender caresses” paid by the Labeques to the keyboard turned a temperamental piece because of the different genres involved – Latin rhythms, jazz, love songs, etc. – into a soft sound, almost a whisper in the spectator’s ear.
The French sisters were accompanied by their fellow countryman, drummer Raphael Seguinier, and by Venezuelan Gonzalo Grau with the large conga drum, bongos and minor percussion.
For five decades, Katia and Marielle have interpreted and recorded the majority of the works for two pianos in instrumental, chamber and concert genres. In order to spread their activity they have created the KML Foundation as well as their own seal, KML Recordings.
The Labeque concert at the Fourth Leo Brouwer Festival is a further evidence of the prestige and high convoking power of an event that after only four years of existence is ranked as the country’s most important music appointment.