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Katia Labèque

Katia Labèque is a French pianist known for her longtime collaboration with her younger sister in the Katia & Marielle Labèque piano duo. She was born in 1950 in Hendaye, France, and she started playing the piano when she was five years old. She received early instruction from her mother Ada Cecchi, who was an accomplished pianist and former pupil of Marguerite Long. Her father was also a musician and sang in the choir of the Bordeaux Opera. Later, Labèque and her younger sister Marielle studied piano together under Lucette Descaves at the Paris Conservatory. After they graduated in 1968, they continued their education and enrolled in the cycle de perfectionnement under Jean Hubeau, where they focused on repertoire for two pianos. The following year, they released their debut album Olivier Messiaen: Visions De L'Amen. This was followed by several recordings in the '70s including Bartok: Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion, Rachmaninov: 24 Preludes; Suite No. 2, and Hindemith - Martinu. They became quite popular through their recordings and touring from around this time, but they gained worldwide acclaim after their 1980 album Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue sold over 500,000 copies. The duo became known for their interpretations of both standard repertoire and contemporary works, and composers such as Philip Glass, Luciano Berio, and Arvo Pärt have written pieces especially for them. Labèque was married to jazz fusion guitarist John McLaughlin in the '80s, and they toured together and recorded Belo Horizonte, Music Spoken Here, and Mediterranean. The duo explored Baroque repertoire in the late '90s and performed under many of the top conductors of the genre, including Simon Rattle, John Eliot Gardiner, and Andrea Marcon. After a ten-year-long break from recording, she cofounded the KML Recordings label with her sister in 2007. The label was dedicated to releasing their own recordings and those of young and experimental ensembles from other genres, such as Dream House, Kalakan, and Red Velvet. Labèque remained very active with the piano duo through the 2010s and recorded several albums on the KML label, including Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Bernstein: West Side Story and Minimalist Dream House. Since 2020, she has premiered works by Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner and appeared on the albums Nazareno: Bernstein, Stravinsky, Golijov, and Philip Glass: Cocteau Trilogy.
© RJ Lambert /TiVo


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