The spirit of Duo
Isabelle and Florence Lafitte are
twins. So much for the anecdotal information, which the press offices
never fails to take up. But, leaving beside the incidental facts, they
are also part of a restricted world, that of the duo for two pianos,
rare and little known because it makes demands, terrible demands, on
The duo does not so much bring
personalities, accumulated and associated like two demi-pianists made
into a single whole; rather it is an entity as rich as an orchestra, as
intransigent as a string quartet, uniting every single day in the
constant effort to perfect a sound, which must then be developed in the
service of the works performed.
Thirty-six years of such labour,
years of concert performance: that is the measure of the Duo Lafitte's
career to date. At the outset, they had to learn to play together, work
through rhythms to find their common pulse. Not uniform, common. Like a
long-term relationship in which, at the last, each partner develops
individually within the pattern of common growth. The emancipation is
The vibrant piano duo learned to
stern, terrible character when squaring up to an orchestra: the France
National Orchestra, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, the Toulouse
Capitole Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal
Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra, the Belgian National Orchestra
… The Mozart and Poulenc concertos, naturally, but also many
other, rarely heard works.
The repertoire is truly immense.
indeed attracted by its immensity, Isabelle and Florence Lafitte have
explored it, often as pioneers, desiring new places and going to them.
Their repertoire has progressively expanded. Once over the hurdle of
Milhaud's Scaramouche and Brahms' Hungarian Dances, they played a
Petrarch Sonnet by Liszt directly from the manuscript score, since it
had been neither published nor played in modern times. They have
created a data base of more than seven thousand works for two pianos,
and are still looking for and enquiring after others. Nothing
stimulates their playing more than the new pieces which they commission
or which Isabelle writes herself.
When asked for concert
respond with a willingness to leave the trodden paths. The wealth of
neglected material which they lovingly restore to performing order has
become the core of their militant efforts on behalf of music for two
pianos. The duo passion motivates their quest.
The public has been quick to
value, for the piano duo is nothing if not spectacular. It does not
possess the fierce intimacy of the piano duet, instead revealing itself
always as a moment of intensity, sculpted by the vibrations of two
giant instruments. Major concert venues throughout Asia and Europe
(Concertgebouw - Amsterdam, Novell Hall - Taipei, KKL - Luzern,
Mausikhalle - Hamburg), or in America have welcomed and anxiously
awaited the duo's performances as prestigious events in the musical
calendar. They possess an almost instant capacity to merge with the
space at each venue, in performances that are to be watched almost as
much as listened to.
It is then that the twinship of
Isabelle and Florence Lafitte attends the viewer's gaze, as in a game of
spot-the-difference; but hearing takes the upper hand, unsealing their
temperaments, their magnificent service to music.
Isabelle et Florence Lafitte
graduated from the Conservatoire national
Supérieur de Musique, in Lyons.
They completed their training at the Manhattan School of Music,
New York, and at the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest.
They were finalists at the International Murray Dranoff Two
Piano Competition (Honorary Award, Miami, 1989), and get
first prize at the International Music Video Competition
(Fuji TV Network, Tokyo, 1987).
They are supported by France Telecom Foundation.
« I was struck by their innate
accuracy of their expression, the quality of their execution which
reveal exceptional mastery for such young artists. I was not the only
one to be impressed by the twins profound