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Piano Fantasy: Music for Two Pianos [Box Set]
Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvorak, Georges Bizet
Piano Fantasy: Music for Two Pianos [Box Set]
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Special Interest, Soundtracks, Classical


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Happy Music-Making by the Best at Half-Off!
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 04/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The sister's Labeque, Katia and Marielle, have become sort of a modern day version of Flagstad and Melchior, the Met's supreme Wagner pair of the thirties: people quite take their supreme gifts as duo pianists completely for granted. "Oh, yes, I really like them!", someone will say. Yet somehow they never seem to generate the same sort of critical attention here at Amazon other still up and coming musicians regularly receive. Certainly anyone who has attended one of their concerts cannot help but be impressed with what must be one of the most pleasureable experiences in classical concert going.

When the Labeques started off on their own company/projects Philips put together this large box set covering the first decade and a half of their career. These CDs run from the initial and famous Gershwin numbers released in 1980 and which put the duo on the musical map with a huge uproar through the Tchaikovsky numbers from 1995, with in between a wide-ranging selection of many great albums. Here we have a 6 CD box set showcasing a great deal of some of the finest and most accessible selections from these two famous artists in the two piano repetoire at a stupendous price!

The box set of six CDs comes with cardboard sleeves containing a listed program and a five page essay, "Piano Fantasy", by Max Harrison (In English, French and German) discussing the individual selections. There are 8 pages of track listings, each with timings. Save for a single black and white frontspiece photo no mention whatsoever is made of the two stars.

To my taste the selections from the French repetoire are first rate as performances, no surprise there. Also of no surprise are good work in Gershwin, with a two piano version of Rhapsody in Blue for both two pianos and another version for two pianos and orchestra. If this doesn't quite earse memories of Earl Wild it's still approapriately and well played. Arrangements by Debussy - of all people! - of three selections from Swan Lake for two pianos add a fascinating novelty, as do a further five selections from Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty ballet arranged by Sergei Rachmaninoff!

A full CD is given over to some of my favorite music, the piano music of Spain's golden age. This alone made the disc for me - great display pieces glowing with light and energy, with several two piano arrangements made by Albeniz of his most famous solo pieces. You can hear samples of this CD at Espana! / Katia & Marielle Labeque / Albeniz Lecuona Falla (Philips)

There are also two discs devoted to the famous dances of Brahms and Dvorak. You can here samples from both of these CDs at Amazon's original listings for the initial relelases. Brahms: The 21 Hungarian Dances Dvorak Slavonic Dances op 46 + 72 Lebeque Sisters (Philips) There are a several other versions of these, but the Labeque's acquit themselves well against the 'bigger' names. One just doesn't sit down and start playing two piano music, and their background with such issues as balancing the two instruments in a recording pays off. As Paul Hornung so rightly put said it in his famous commercial, "Practice, practice, practice."

A great bargain filled to bursting with outgoing, highly attractive music! If you enjoy the Labeques or piano recordings in general this should be a wondeful addition to your collection. If you have yet to purchase one of their CDs this certainly is a good place to begin!

The Labegues continue to strike out on their own with fresh ideas and in new directions, with new repetoire, DVDs, and cross-over albums that don't really sound like cross-over performances. Among my choices in their new work would be;

Having saved bundels on the Philips set you might first try the expensive but fabulous new issue; Maurice RAvel: Katia et Marielle Labeque A revisit to Ravel that must be among the exciting recordings they've done. The Rhapsodie Espagnole strikes levels of dramatic intensity not to be missed!

Katia et Marielle Labèque play Stravinsky & Debussy [CD + DVD] A wildly creative visual approach generally works quite well -very 'hip' or avant garde DVD.

In 1996 Katia on her own joined a group of outstanding partners for a fabulous jazz CD. Little Girl Blue Don't let the cover deceive you - this is 1996 CD is terrific stuff. Katia now has branched out from her sister and has been active on her own with stunning small ensembles for almost a decade.

Katia also joined Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova for a series of concerts and recordings highlighting a repetoire marked with originality in programming and distinquished musicianship.
Viktoria Mullova & Katia Lebeque in Recital

If you want to see the pair in a visual feast while playing their French repetoire check out the DVD cited below. It rises above the soupy cover's suggestion of bland daydreamy picture postcards with a wealth of fine images and a nice mix of present and past.The Loves of Emma Bardac - Katia Labeque, Marielle Labeque, Pierre Boulez

Too Good to Miss
T. Kohn | Montgomery, Alabama | 06/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The review by "Doug-Haydn Fan" is spot on. This is a wonderful collection of the Labeque sisters spanning approximately 15 years. It includes most of the recordings the sisters made for the Philips label - most discs are previous Philips albums in their entirety.

If you've never listened to the Labeques, buy it without worry, it is guaranteed to please any lover of piano music. It's filled with their characteristic energetic style and flair, but without any hint of being over done.

If you are a new fan of the Labeques, having heard some of their releases since 1996, this collection will delight you as a perfect record of what might be called the second phase of their careers, roughly from ages 30 to 45.

If you already own some of these recordings, you know this price is too good to pass up. Consider it as a perfect gift to share with friends who love classical music. Or better yet, consider it for those who aren't familiar with classical. You'll receive many thanks either way.

Lastly, these Philips recordings are magnificent. All the Philips classical recordings I've heard during this period are of the highest quality and clarity, and these are no different. The dynamic range is right at the limit of recording technology (and the human ear). Don't try to listen to these in the car (unless it is turned off), as you'll miss the most subtle details of the soft passages, then blow out your windows when suddenly the sisters are pounding the keyboards."
W. Listener
W. Villegas | 07/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a package of 6 CDs of beautiful music played by the Labeque sisters (Katia and Marielle) with emotion and technical precision; All at a great price. You get music by Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, De Falla, Lecuona,Ravel, Dvorak, Brahms, among others. If you enjoy piano music, you will enjoy this set."