STRAVINSKY / DEBUSSY – Katia et Marielle Labeque, pianos + videos by Tal Rosner – STRAVINSKY: Concerto for Two Pianos; Five Easy Pieces; Three Easy Pieces; Ragtime; 3 from “The Five Fingers;” Valse, Tango; DEBUSSY: En blanc et noir – KML Recordings
Published on August 31, 2007
The second release from the Labeque sisters’ own record label shows them trying some rather far out approaches to the music and its presentation – approaches which probably wouldn’t have been supported by their previous label, Universal. The liner note writer speaks about the genre of music videos being connected primarily with pop and rock music, but that classical music really lends itself even better to accompanying artistic images due to its higher evocative powers. He feels it a shame that aside from Disney’s now 68-year-old Fantasia, the public hasn’t seen much classical music together with creative screen images.
The Labeques engaged young videographer Rosner to provide images for most of the selections they perform on one and two pianos on the music CD of this pair of discs. The DVD is 4:3 screen, color, and with 48K PCM stereo audio. But it is listed on the jewel box as PAL format, which it is not. It played fine on my NTSC player. Each of the pieces as a different visual approach. The one Debussy piece naturally calls up water-oriented images and works well with them. Most of the Stravinsky works accompany fast-moving industrial images. There are many two-screen sequences of side-by-side images that are sometimes connected and sometimes not. Many are shot from moving train windows, as buildings and the countryside pass by. Later videos are full screen. The cutting is perfectly synchronized to the music and some of the selections are very effective. Others get a bit boring. For the Three Easy Stravinsky Pieces we begin to glimpse the Labeques at work recording the music, along with closeups of the hammers on the strings, other details of the pianos, and even of videographer Rosner.
The slightly extended frequency response and clarity of the 48K PCM audio is to be preferred to the standard CD’s 44.1K. The Labeques play all the works with great emphasis on the rhythmic qualities and with a percussive touch, which is in keeping with the Stravinsky selections. The one piece which is for solo piano, Stravinsky’s 1918 Ragtime, is played by Marielle with plenty of swing and syncopation. This album is certainly a creative way to employ the CD + DVD combo toward a unique media vision.
– John Sunier