Katia and Marielle Labeque, sisters, duo pianist virtuosos and celebrities, turned many heads in the classical music orbit of the 1980’s and 1990’s with their vivacious musicality coming out of a strong commitment to the music of George Gershwin. At that point they were widely noted as amazingly snappy dressers and occupants (or, rather, invaders) of the then quite stuffy concert stage by way of a register of movie-star kinetics.
Hitting the new millennium, however, they’ve pretty well dispensed with chic Art Deco in favor of Surrealist delirium. Katia, who was, back then, known to mess with jazz artists like Chick Corea, has now raised a sort of Jolly Roger amidst the placid harbor of classical concertizing, an attack going under the avant-gardist format, Minimal Dream House Project.
There is a continuity, of sorts, between the early commitment to cool clothes and the later passion for hurricane-level sonic power. It is to be graphically accessed, here in Toronto these days, by the Christian Louboutin exhibition (at the Design Exchange) of women’s shoes going ballistic.
The performance (in the first segment of this minimalist troupe’s concert at Toronto’s Koerner Hall a few days ago) of Philip Glass’ “Four Movements” (two pianos) was virtuosic and dynamically compelling in ways that could still be folded back into rational reflection. But the latter part of this Zeppelinesque four-hour rhythmic bombardment involved avant-gardist/rockers: David Chalmin (guitar and vocals); Nicola Tescari (keyboards and electronics); Alexandre Maillard (bass); Raphael Seguimer (drums and electronics)—performing their own compositions and insurrections like, “Ghost Rider” by the 70’s Punk crew, Suicide (a piece sliced and diced by the Project to emphasize its pulsation while still retaining its clear disdain for mainstream life).
Much of the scuttlebutt surrounding this heist had to do with the rock factor bearing no sensible relation to the more sedate simplifications by Glass, Satie and Howard Skempton. But the labor throughout was to provide a cloud-chamber revelation that our sensibilities can be tripped by incisive rhythms and textures, into an affair of firing up nature itself. That this bid has a quiet option is brilliantly demonstrated by Yang Fudong’s five-screen cinematic installation, New Women, still running at TIFF’s exhibition hall.