CD review: Cedric Tiberghien’s Bartok

First published in the Guardian on 16 February, 2017

Bartok: Piano Sonata, Sonatina, Sonata for two pianos & percussion etc.
Cédric Tiberghien (Hyperion)

Cédric Tiberghien’s Bartok series has been an ear-opener of expressive and sharp-witted performances that clinch the music’s essence in original terms. The French pianist has saved some of Bartok’s most straight-out tuneful material for last: this final instalment includes the Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csík District (melodies Bartok learned in August 1907 from a Transylvanian flute player), the Three Rondos on Slovak Folk Tunes and the slight, blithe Sonatina. He balances these with the fiery Études and the motoring Sonata — and in all of it, the angular as well as the earthy, he has a way of making rhythms sound stretchy, precise and personal. He’s joined by fellow pianist François-Frédéric Guy and percussionists Colin Currie and Sam Walton for the astoundingly inventive Sonata for two pianos and percussion from 1926 — a jostling, gracious and generally deft performance to round off the disc.