CD review: Cedric Tiberghien’s Bartok

First published in the Guardian on 24 March, 2016

French pianist Cedric Tiberghien has an expressive way with Bartok. Even in music that often uses the piano as a percussive instrument, his attack is never angular or dry; instead it’s warm, personal and spacious, with a flux to the rhythms that sounds totally organic. Why have I never noticed so many gorgeous impressionistic colours in the Opus 14 Suite? Clearly they’re there for the taking in the hands of the right pianist. And crucially in a collection of miniatures — this disc contains 43 tiny pieces averaging a minute or two each — Tiberghien is capable of magicking up vivid character within the space of seconds. He makes shapely sense of the twisting counterpoint in the Barcarolla of the Out of Doors suite and creates an intensely clammy stillness in The Night’s Music. He turns the Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs into muscular little vignettes, the vivacious third Burlesque into a perfect Debussy-esque shimmer and finds huge personality in every corner of the fiendish last book of Mikrokosmos.