One key to the Labeques' musical personality is that they form a duo of different temperaments: extrovert and introvert, to put it basically. More often, you get like minds and a uniformity of response. For these two, lifelong intimacy goes with a vital tension. Their playing covers an uncommon expressive range from ultra-vigorous to lyrically soulful, and in the broadcast Scriabin Fantasy the two sides merged into a single, larger-than-life whole. This they also showed in the way they talked about finding music to play. Marielle didn't mind there being little from the Romantics since she didn't like them anyway, whereas Katia put the emphasis on the depth of the medium's French repertoire, Romantic or not. Now they are looking back in time, with period instruments joining the agenda.
Sound Stories, at 11am, sounds dead already. This week the subject is "Islands", presented by Peggy Reynolds instead of the advertised Richard Baker. Island mentality, more like. The method, as heard in Tuesday's "Manhattan", is to take a string of cliches about the place and hang on it some snippets of musical history. "New York! Anything goes, and anything is to be had - for a price!" This after Bernstein's "America", in which Stephen Sondheim's words draw a sharper picture of the city's aspirations.
"Manhattan Island was the cradle of the New World, attracting composers and performers alike." Cue straight to Dvorak symphony. Was this script a send-up? A little later, in nudge-nudge tones: "There was plenty of other music, of quite a different kind" - meaning Duke Ellington in Harlem. Different, eh? Yet, at the end, came a quick insight: 30 seconds of a hermetic piano piece by Milton Babbitt, followed by some more Sondheim - music this time. The link was teacher and student. And didn't the keyboard tinklings under Sondheim's tune sound a bit like Babbitt? By design or not, listeners had heard a fresh perspective. The corpse was still twitching.Reuse content