Cedric Tiberghien, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

3.00

Clean-limbed, shining-eyed Cedric Tiberghien, 35, still comes across like the miraculous child he was when he won the Paris Conservatoire’s Premier Prix at seventeen, and his approach to the piano still has a vernal innocence.

For him it’s a paint-box with which he creates landscapes of Oriental delicacy: he has more shades of pianissimo up his sleeve than any other pianist currently on the circuit.

But as he launched into Chopin’s first Scherzo one felt oddly ill at ease. The upward-sweeping gusts of notes were so fast they became a blur: this was one of those paradoxical moments when they would have actually sounded faster if they’d been played slower, so that one could have savoured the intricate detail. On the other hand, the work’s lyrical sections were a delight, as were the three Chopin Mazurkas which followed. Then came Chopin’s first Ballade, sweetly eloquent in its opening stages, but strikingly lacking in heft when it needed to raise the rafters: Tiberghien’s fingers seemed to skitter across the keys, rather than digging into them. After two more Chopin mazurkas, followed by his majestic second Scherzo, things became clear. Tiberghien’s brand of virtuosity lies in a parade of effects, rather than in the creation of pieces of architecture: he’s essentially a miniaturist, albeit a poetic one.

But his Chopin celebration had an interesting subtext in that its second half was largely devoted to mazurkas by two of that composer’s Polish successors, plus a rogue Russian. Scriabin’s attempts at the genre served to highlight the virtues of Chopin’s: his mazurkas seemed pallid and sprawling when set alongside the pungent tautness of his exemplar. Alexander Tansman - like Chopin born in Poland and dying in Paris - went faithfully through the motions, and followed Chopin’s rhythms and modal patterns, but his pieces ended up sounding more like Poulenc. The success among these latter-day mazurkists was Karol Szymanowski, a Polish nationalist who carried the torch for his great compatriot. His attempts worked because they had a charm and originality of their own.

After which, it was a relief to get back to the voice of the master, but once more with reservations. Tiberghien’s performance of the Opus 59 Mazurkas had a brittle, look-at-me cleverness, and in his hands the Polonaise-Fantaisie never emerged as the magnificent edifice it is. Chopin should sing from the heart, but on this occasion he never did.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum