Katia and Marielle Labèque

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The Labèque sisters, Katia (born 11 March 1950) and Marielle (born 6 March 1952), are an internationally known French piano duo.[1]


Education and first performances[edit]

Katia and Marielle were both born in Bayonne, on the southwest coast of France near the Spanish border (Northern Basque Country). Their father was a doctor, rugby football player and music lover. He sang in the Bordeaux Opera choir. The sisters' first teacher was their Italian mother, Ada Cecchi (a former student of Marguerite Long), who began lessons when her daughters were three and five years of age.[2] Upon graduation in piano from the Conservatoire de Paris in 1968, the two began working on piano four hands and two pianos repertoire. They recorded their first album Les Visions de l'Amen of Olivier Messiaen[3] under the artistic direction of the composer himself. They then undertook performance of contemporary music, performing works by Luciano Berio,[4] Pierre Boulez, Philippe Boesmans, György Ligeti and Olivier Messiaen.

International career[edit]

While some degree of recognition came with this performance repertoire, true celebrity arrived when their 1980 two-piano recording of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue sold over a half million copies.[5] Beyond the traditional classical repertoire, their repertoire extends to contemporary classical music, jazz, ragtime, flamenco, minimal music, baroque music on period instruments, and even pop music and experimental rock.

They discovered baroque music with Marco Postinghel and commissioned the construction of two Silberman fortepianos in 1998. They played these instruments with Il Giardino Armonico[6] conducted by Giovanni Antonini, Musica Antiqua Köln conducted by Reinhard Goebel (Johann Sebastian Bach commemoration year in 2000), the English Baroque Soloists conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Venice Baroque Orchestra conducted by Andrea Marcon, and with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment[7] conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.[8]

They performed for 33,000 people at the Waldbühne gala concert, the last concert of the 2005 season of the Berlin Philharmonic.,[9] and for more than 100,000 people in May 2016 at Schönbrunn Palace[10] with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Semyon Bychkov.

Many works have been written especially for them, such as "Linea" for two pianos and percussion by Luciano Berio, "Water Dances" for two pianos by Michael Nyman, "Battlefield"[11] for two pianos and orchestra by Richard Dubugnon, "Nazareno"[12] for two pianos, percussion and orchestra by Osvaldo Golijov and Gonzalo Grau, "The Hague Hacking"[13] for two pianos and orchestra by Louis Andriessen, "Capriccio" by Philippe Boesmans, "Concerto for two pianos and orchestra"[14] by Philip Glass performed in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Katia and Marielle have expanded the repertoire for two pianos and percussion with works such as the first instrumental version of West Side Story, transcribed by Irwin Kostal (orchestrator of the original musical), and the version for two pianos and basque percussions of Maurice Ravel's Boléro. They premiered "Four Movements" for two pianos by Philip Glass in France, England, and Italy (where in the summer of 2011 they opened the 48th Edition of the Chamber Music Festival of Cervo, Liguria) [15] [16] [17] and Cuba. In November 2011, they premiered the project "50 Years of Minimalism" at Kings Place (London)[18] with works of John Cage, David Chalmin, William Duckworth,[19] Arvo Pärt, Michael Nyman, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Howard Skempton, etc.

Recording career[edit]

Between 1970 and 1997, they recorded many albums for Erato (Warner Classics), Philips Records, EMI Classics, Sony Music Entertainment, and Decca Records. They then ceased recording for 10 years before creating their own classical music label KML Recordings in 2007 in Italy. Beyond their own records, they produce young bands and musicians of different musical backgrounds, such as experimental rock (B for Bang DimensionX, Dream House, Red Velvet) and traditional music (Mayte Martin, Kalakan). For example, they produced the first album by Kalakan[20] and they introduced them to their friend Madonna[21] in 2011. After this meeting, the trio participated in her MDNA Tour in 2012. In June 2016 they joined the Deutsche Grammophon record label[22] for the distribution of their record label KML Recordings.

They also created their own foundation in 2005 "Fondazione Katia e Marielle Labèque" in Rome, Italy, with the goals of promoting the relationship between music and image, commissioning new works for two pianos, and supporting experimental music groups. Their first project in 2009 supported the young filmmaker Tal Rosner.

In 2012, they created their own recording studio called "Studio KML", in an ancient school in Rome as a meeting point between all the musicians of their Foundation and the KML Recordings label. Their first recording in this place was the "Minimalist Dream House".[23]

Personal lives[edit]

Katia Labèque's boyfriend is David Chalmin, composer, producer and singer/guitarist of the band Triple Sun. She was formerly married to English guitarist John McLaughlin and she was also a member of his band in the early 1980s. Marielle Labèque is married to the conductor Semyon Bychkov.[24] The sisters still live together; they moved to London in 1987, to a palace in Florence in 1993, and since 2005 they have lived in a palace that belonged to the Borgia family of Rome.


Recordings in duet[edit]

  • 1969 : Olivier Messiaen, Visions De L'Amen
  • 1970 : Bartok, Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion
  • 1972 : Rachmaninov, 24 Preludes & Suite No. 2
  • 1972 : Hindemith - Martinu
  • 1979 : Marius Constant : Psyche
  • 1980 : Gershwin, Rhapsody In Blue / Piano Concerto In F
  • 1981 : Brahms, Hungarian dances
  • 1982 : Scott Joplin, Gladrags
  • 1983 : Liszt, Réminiscences de Don Juan
  • 1984 : Rossini, Petite messe solennelle
  • 1984 : Gershwin, An American in Paris
  • 1985 : Bizet, Fauré, Ravel
  • 1987 : Stravinsky, Petrouchka / Concerto For 2 Pianos
  • 1987 : Gershwin, I got Rhythm - Music for Two Pianos
  • 1988 : Bernstein, Symphonic dances and songs from West Side Story
  • 1990 : Love of Colours
  • 1990 : Dvorak, Slavonic Dances Op. 46 & 72
  • 1991 : Encore !
  • 1993 : España !
  • 1994 : Tchaikovsky, Piano fantasy : music for two pianos
  • 1996 : En blanc et noir - Debussy Album, including En blanc et noir
  • 2001 : Brahms - Tchaikovsky - Debussy (compilation album)
  • 2003 : Piano Fantasy (compilation album - 6 CD box)
  • 2006 : Maurice Ravel
  • 2007 : Stravinsky / Debussy
  • 2007 : Schubert / Mozart
  • 2009 : Erik Satie
  • 2010 : The New CD box
  • 2011 : Gershwin-Bernstein, Rhapsody in Blue - West Side Story
  • 2011 : Nazareno
  • 2013 : Minimalist Dream House
  • 2014 : Sisters
  • 2016 : Invocations
  • 2017 : Love Stories

Recordings with collaborators[edit]



  • 2016: Une vie à quatre mains, Renaud Machart, Buchet/Chastel, ISBN 2283027225


  1. ^ Jean-Pierre Thiollet, 88 notes pour piano solo, « Solo de duo », Neva Editions, 2015, p.97. ISBN 978-2-3505-5192-0
  2. ^ "Katia and Marielle Labèque interviewed with their parents in 1969 (in French)". Archived from the original on 2013-01-12. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  3. ^ "Olivier Messiaen / Katia Et Marielle Labèque - Visions De L'Amen". Discogs.com.
  4. ^ "Concerto of Luciano Berio, INA archive". Archived from the original on 6 January 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Biography of Katia & Marielle Labèque". Official website. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  6. ^ "The world's leading classical music channel". Medici.tv.
  7. ^ "Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Rattle Katia & Marielle Labèque [Haydn & Mozart]". Classicalsource.com.
  8. ^ "Les soeurs Labèque et Simon Rattle, trio historique - Actualité Culture sur Free.fr". Archive.today. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  9. ^ "Kult-Konzert mit Kängurus". Tagesspiegel.de.
  10. ^ "Summer night concert 2016". September 30, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "Music review: LA Phil premieres Richard Dubugnon's 'Battlefield'". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. November 12, 2011.
  12. ^ "Agotada la primera edición del disco 'Nazareno' interpretado por la OSCyL". Elmundo.es.
  13. ^ "MUSIC REVIEW". Los Angeles Times. January 19, 2009.
  14. ^ "Premiere of Philip Glass Concerto for two pianos and orchestra, written for Katia and Marielle Labèque". December 2, 2015. Archived from the original on February 19, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  15. ^ "Cervo, the festival and magic". La Mia Liguria. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  16. ^ "Le sorelle Labèque aprono il 48° Festival Internazionale di Musica di Cervo (sisters opened the 48th festival of Cervo)". Riviera24.it (in Italian).
  17. ^ "official website concerts Labèque sisters". Labeque.com. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  18. ^ Berryman, Steven (November 29, 2011). "50 Years of Minimalism: Rock 'n' Rollers @ Kings Place, London". Icareifyoulisten.com.
  19. ^ "Music review of William Duckworth creative work". Archived from the original on January 10, 2013.
  20. ^ "Kalakan present his first album co-produced by Labèque sisters' KML recordings (in basque)". Archived from the original on November 2, 2013.
  21. ^ "Madonna, poulette basquaise". Libération.fr. July 12, 2012.
  22. ^ "Labeque sisters signed by Deutsche Grammophon". classiquenews.com (in French). Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  23. ^ "France Musique". Radio France. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012.
  24. ^ "Milestones for conductor Semyon Bychkov". Financial Times. 2 January 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2010.

External links[edit]