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Partitas BWV 825-830

Cedric Tiberghien (Piano)

Cedric Tiberghien Plays Bach Keyboard Partitas

K-1

Bach: Partitas No. 2, 3, 4

Partitas Nos. 2-4 BWV 826-828 [21:10, 18:53, 37:26]

Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)

Harmonia Mundi

Aug 2004

CD / TT: 77:29

Recorded live at Recorded Teldex Studio Berlin, Germany.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Cedric Tiberghien Plays Bach Keyboard Partitas

Donald Satz wrote (November 9, 2005):
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Works for Solo Keyboard

Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826
Partita No. 3 in A minor, BWV 827
Partita No. 4 in D major, BWV 828

Cédric Tiberghien, piano
Recorded Teldex Studio Berlin, August 2004
Released October 2005
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901869 [77:40]

Comparisons: Argerich/DG (no. 2 only), Gould/Sony, Hewitt/Hyperion, Rangell/Dorian, Rübsam/Naxos, Tureck/Philips

Summary: A fine disc, but.....

Cédric Tiberghien is a young French pianist who has already recorded Beethoven, Grieg, Schumann, and Debussy for Harmonia Mundi. Tiberghien's Bach is my first acquaintance with his playing, and he certainly has much to offer. His virtuosity and dexterity are never in doubt as he handles Bach's fast movements such as the Courantes and Gigues with aplomb and great energy. Tiberghien also displays an expert balance between upper and lower voices; both his detail and clarity are quite impressive. In addition, he well connects with Bach's lyricism, rhythmic flow, and overall sound world.

However, the disc also reveals two major problems. One concerns the Bach Sarabande which is a standard movement in each of the Suites. This movement is where keyboard players need to put their 'hearts and souls' into music that most possesses great poignancy and alternates between spiritual enrichment and a landscape of bleakness. Playing it at a quick pace tends to trivialize the musical arguments, but playing slower than the norm can also weaken their impact.

Let's use the example of the Sarabande from the Suite in D major. In most recorded performances, this Sarabande takes up from 8 to 9 minutes; Tiberghien extends the music to about 11 1/2 minutes. For such a slow pace to be effective, the performance must be more probing and emotionally rich than faster versions and/or offer alternative musical arguments through the use of articulation, dynamics, and accenting; pianists such as Rosalyn Tureck and Wolfgang Rübsam are experts in this area. Unfortunately, Tiberghien merely plays the piece at a slower speed, resulting in music that exhibits much inertia and saps the piece of its stateliness and progression. Since he essentially does nothing with the additional 2 1/2 minutes, it becomes wasted time and disc space. Of course, this impacts the entire movement and makes it difficult to endure.

The second problem involves a soundstage that 'swims with the fishes'. Overly wet and reverberant, this type of sound might not be very damaging for performances that are strong on horizontal expressiveness, but it is contrary to the concentrated playing style of Tiberghien. Essentially, the playing and soundstage are at odds, robbing the recorded performances of their bite and inevitability.

Don's Conclusions: Given the wrong sonics and unimpressive Sarabandes, I cannot recommend this premium-priced Bach disc from Cédric Tiberghien. It does have its virtues, but the recorded competition is overwhelming. If you like probing accounts, look no further than the Tureck set on a 2-cd Philips set. If maximum creativity is your preference, Rübsam's interpretations should delight and illuminate your perception of this music; Rangell's performances are also illuminating but not as distinctive as Rübsam's. Then there's the magnificent set from Glenn Gould and the affectionate readings of Angela Hewitt. Tiberghien does not measure up to these alternatives.

 

Feedback to the Review

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 9, 2005):
828 sarabande

Donald Satz wrote:
< Partita No. 4 in D major, BWV 828
Let's use the example of the Sarabande from the Suite in D major. In most recorded performances, this Sarabande takes up from 8 to 9 minutes; Tiberghien extends the music to about 11 1/2 minutes. For such a slow pace to be effective, the performance must be more probing and emotionally rich than faster versions and/or offer alternative musical arguments through the use of articulation, dynamics, and accenting; pianists such as
Rosalyn Tureck and Wolfgang Rübsam are experts in this area. Unfortunately, Tiberghien merely plays the piece at a slower speed, resulting in music that exhibits much inertia and saps the piece of its stateliness and progression. Since he essentially does nothing with the additional 2 1/2 minutes, it becomes wasted time and disc space. Of course, this impacts the entire movement and makes it difficult to endure. >
For me, if the piece is to be played on piano, the yardstick of elegant beauty in that sarabande is still Sergei Rachmaninoff's recording from 1925. And its duration, with all repeats, is 4'18".

Parmentier's on harpsichord takes 3'59" but has a considerably slower tempo than Rachmaninoff...he doesn't draw out the extreme ritardandos that R does in delineating the structure, and he doesn't take the second repeat.

On harpsichord I usually take about 4'40" with both repeats and with various tempo fluctuations along the way. (The piece is written in 3, not 6 or 12!) If it gets much slower than that, the overholding within the melody makes a less resonant effect.

Schiff at 5'49" is about the slowest that I can stand to listen to. As much as I enjoy the things that Rübsam does, with interesting ideas all over the place, this sarabande at 7'20" and allemande at 11'53" are just way too slow for me. The underlying dance structure gets dissipated until it hardly exists anymore. An 11-minute sarabande would be right out.

Stephen Benson wrote (November 9, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< allemande at 11'53" are just way too slow for me. >
My favorite D major allemande is Kapell's at 7:39, but I have to say I have a sort of perverse appreciation for Fiorentino's even at his snail's pace of 15:12!

 

Partitas BWV 825-830: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Partitas - P. Anderszewski [McElhearn] | Partitas - P. Anderszewski [Satz] | Partitas - L. Corolan & I. Kipnis | Partitas - E. Feller 1 | Partitas - E. Parmentier | Partitas - A. Rangell | GV & Partitas - K. Richter | Partitas - B. Roberts | Partitas - S. Ross | Partitas - C. Rousset | Partitas - S. Sager | Partitas - C. Sheppard [Morrison] | Partitas - C. Sheppard [Satz] | Partitas - J.L. Steuerman | Partitas - M. Suzuki [McElhearn] | Partitas - M. Suzuki [Henderson] | Partitas - C. Tiberghien | Partitas - R. Troeger | Partitas - B. Verlet | Partitas - K. Weiss | Rübsam - Part 2 | Rübsam - Part 3
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 Part 4 | MD: Partita No. 1 in B flat major BWV 825
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
Partitas - P. Anderszewski | Partitas - V. Dondysh | Partitas - played R. Goode
|
Partitas - R. Kirkpatrick | Partitas - A. Rangell | Partitas - S. Ross | Partitas - A. Schiff | Partitas - M. Suzuki | Partitas - B. Verlet | Partitas - K. Weiss | Partitas - R. Woolley | Partitas - Z. Xiao-Mei

Cédric Tiberghien: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings: Review:
Cedric Tiberghien Plays Bach Keyboard Partitas

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Last update: ýJanuary 31, 2007 ý11:16:17