French sisters Katia & Marielle Labèque have announced a new recording of works by American minimalist composer Philip Glass. The forthcoming album on Deutsche Grammophon will include a new piano duet arrangement of Glass’s opera Les Enfants terribles and Glass’ Etudes No. 17 & 20.
The Labèque Sisters
Immersed in music since childhood, the Labèques rose to notoriety in 1981 when their modern, two-piano interpretation of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue garnered international acclaim and half-a-million album sales.
The pair have since worked with a veritable who’s-who of contemporary composition – collaborators include Olivier Messiaen, Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Louis Andriessen, Philip Glass, Bryce Dessner, Thom Yorke and Nico Muhly.
Philip Glass – Les Enfants terribles
The music of American minimalist composer Philip Glass occupies a special place in the lives of Katia & Marielle Labèque. Glass dedicated his Double Concerto For Two Pianos to the Labèque sisters, and it was Glass who chose to adapt his opera Les Enfants Terribles into a suite for piano duet for the Labèque’s, entrusting the adaptation to Michael Riesman, his longtime collaborator and arranger.
Glass’s opera Les Enfants terribles was composed in 1996, the final installment of his trilogy based work of Jean Cocteau. Articulating Cocteau’s belief in the transcendent power of imagination and creativity, Les Enfants is the story of Paul and Elisabeth, two characters so caught up in a world of their own imaginings that they can no longer see a reality beyond their “game”.
Philip Glass – Etudes
Glass’s twenty etudes for piano were composed between 1991 and 2012 and were ultimately categorised into two “Books”.
Glass explained in 2014 that “Book 1 (Etudes #1 through #10) had a twin objective – to explore a variety of tempi, textures and piano techniques. At the same time it was meant to serve as a pedagogical tool by which I would improve my piano playing.
New projects came along and interrupted the work on the etudes for several years. Perhaps for that reason, when I took up work with the etudes again I found the music was following a new path. As I had settled questions of piano technique for myself in Book 1, the music in Book 2 quickly began to suggest a series of new adventures in harmony and structure.
In the end, the etudes are meant to be appreciated not only by the general listener, but especially by those who have the ability and patience to learn, play and perform the music themselves”.
Follow Katia & Marielle Labèque at labeque.com
Follow Philip Glass at philipglass.com