The riot was perhaps inevitable.
In May 1913, the Paris debut of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” sparked shouts and fistfights in the aisles of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. With its dissonant chords and pounding rhythms, the music was raw, violent and unpredictable — a harbinger of the tumultuous century to come.
But a year before, Stravinsky had enlisted fellow composer Claude Debussy for a private, four-hand preview in the home of critic Louis Laloy. “We were dumbfounded,” Laloy later recalled, “overwhelmed by this hurricane which had come from the depths of the ages and which had taken life by the roots.”
At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, sibling pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque — praised by The New York Times as “the best piano duet in front of an audience today” — will present Stravinsky’s hurricane, as well as four-hand works by composer Philip Glass and by The National guitarist Bryce Dessner, as part of the Great Artists Series at Washington University in St. Louis.
Energy and synchronicity
Born in Bayonne, France, the Labèques rose to international fame with their two-piano rendition of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” one of the first gold records in classical music. In the years since, their extensive repertoire — which ranges from contemporary classical to jazz, minimal music and Baroque music performed on period instruments — has been showcased on dozens of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and their own KML label.
The Jan. 28 program will open with Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” which the Labèques recently recorded for the box set “Sisters” (2016), followed by Glass’ torrential “Four Movements for Two Pianos,” featured on their disc “Minimalist Dream House” (2016). Rounding out the program will be Dessner’s “El Chan,” a new work inspired by a visit to the canyons outside San Miguel de Allende, Mexico — and the guardian spirit who is said to reside in its spring-fed waters.
About the Great Artists Series
Sponsored by the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, the Great Artist Series presents intimate recitals with some of the brightest stars in contemporary classical music. In addition to the Labèques, this year’s lineup will include legendary American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (March 25) and the acclaimed Calidore String Quartet (April 22).
Season subscriptions are $90 and include premier reserved seating, post-concert receptions with the artists (when available), and all ticketing fees. Single tickets are $40, or $37 for seniors and Washington University faculty and staff, and $15 for students and children.
All performances take place in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall of the 560 Music Center, located at 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are available through the Edison Theater Box Office, 314-935-6543, or at edison.wustl.edu.
For more information, call 314-935-5566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.