I love interior design, and I love classical music, and I especially love when they intersect as perfectly as with the Labèque sisters. Katia and Marielle Labèque are arguably the world's best piano duo - they are incredibly dramatic and regularly astound their audiences with their expressive and imaginative performances. They are actually performing in Toronto NEXT THURSDAY (not tomorrow - oops) and I am so, so sad to be missing it. If you can possibly swing it, you should really, really go - I think it is going to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime concerts. Sigh.
These gals seem so cool. Besides performing the usual Ravel, Satie, Prokofiev, and Mozart, they have also formed a group called the Minimalist Dream House that explores contemporary music from John Cage and Steve Reich to Sonic Youth and Radiohead. They've played with Sting and Herbie Hancock and Madonna is their buddy. And they have one of the most beautiful and unique homes and recording studios I have ever seen.
The sisters bought the first two floors of a Renaissance palace in Tuscany and collaborated with Antiques dealer and designer Axel Vervoordt to create this gorgeous home that somehow manages to be sumptuous and minimal at the same time. That amazing purple sofa came from Vervoordt's Home Collection, and the various treasures are from his antiques and art objects gallery and store.
Other modern amenities are hidden away throughout the house: the kitchen appliances are tucked beneath these 17th-century doors, and the rich green silk curtain in the living room hides a state-of-the-art stereo system.
This home is so up my alley! If you are wondering where the pianos are (like I was), they are at the world-class recording studio they crafted out of a 1920's nursing-school in Rome. Here the spare but textured space has a more industrial feel, perfectly suited to all the cables and electronic equipment. My favourite thing in the space, the huge stone sphere, is not an adornment from an ancient Italian ruin, as I had assumed, but rather one of a set of nine orbs carved by Thai monks that would have surrounded a temple to "absorb and diffuse cosmic power." Amazing.
I love the inlaid panels placed above the pianos in the this space and the one pictured at the beginning - even the acoustic requirement add to the overall aesthetic. Katia has a great quote in the AD article: “Axel is the only person we know who treats space the same way we read a musical score—exploring new areas of feeling while holding on to the rhythm.”
If you are interested, there is a great interview on the Architectural Digest site of the Lebèque's collaboration and friendship with Axel Vervoordt. Below I'll include a mesmerizing Minimalist Dream House performance of Radiohead's Pyramid Song. (I chose not to include the video of Madonna taking her dancers and crew to visit the Labèques - Madge's patronizing and affected voice makes me crazy.)
Lastly, if you can make it, I implore you to go see them for me next Thursday night, August 1, at Koerner Hall in Toronto (7:30 pm, torontosummermusic.org)!
MINIMALIST DREAM HOUSE _ Radiohead "Pyramid Song" from Meloni Mitchell on Vimeo.