Katia & Marielle Labèque: Florianapolis
Love of Colours (Sony Masterworks SK 47227)
Recorded: Paris, France, December 1990
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
The sisters Labèque are world-famous duo classical pianists. Though they play separate pianos as well, their most famous collaborations have been at the same piano. Their rapport is so telepathic that they have been described as being "one superhuman pianist with four hands." While it is not clear on Love of Colours if the pianists play the same instrument together on every tune, it seems obvious on a couple of numbers. Then again, with the different instrumentation and the wonders of a recording studio, who can say for sure?
Katia and Marielle Labèque are not jazz pianists. They see themselves, especially Katia, as interpreters. Over the years, Katia has put out several such interpretative recordings (e.g., Little Girl Blue) and has collaborated with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul and other legendary jazz keyboardists.
John McLaughlin's composition "Florianapolis" has appeared on several of his albums over the years. It was first recorded on Mahavishnu's Adventures in Radioland in 1986; it surfaced again on the John McLaughlin Trio's Live at the Royal Festival Hall in 1989. Katia, who was connected to John during this period, no doubt heard the tune many times. As one would expect, the Labèques' version features a more delicate approach. But still there are 20 fingers flying across all 88 keys with a joyous abandon. How they don't accidentally scratch each other is a wonder. There is no improvisation. (If there had been, my rating would have been 96.) Instead, the music was written out by McLaughlin as if improvised. The mind boggles at the ink that had to be used. There are a million notes in this tune. The sisters carry it all off brilliantly. The interplay, counterpoint and intuitive nature of the performance is proof that genetic heritage is about more than just DNA.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky