Pianist, Cédric Tiberghien, is coming to Australia for a few concerts including 2 recitals and the debut performances of The Cage Project, which will make its worldwide debut in Australia. We chatted to Cédric Tiberghien. Read our interview with him below.
HIS SOLO CONCERT
Cédric Tiberghien, you’re coming to Adelaide Festival where you will present two shows: a recital and another project named The Cage Project. In your solo performance, you will play Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven, as well as something more modern 4’33” by John Cage. How and why did you choose the compositions that make up this recital?
I am currently at the heart of an important discographical project, Variations[s], which proposes an exploration of the variation form through the complete Variations of Beethoven but also of composers as varied as Sweelinck, Schumann, Cage, Ligeti, Bach or Kurtag. The works in my recital thus show how composers work with musical material, how this work allows them to develop a discourse.
The composer’s work on the most elementary material has always fascinated me. It’s a bit like entering the intimate laboratory, witnessing the craft. It’s like entering the backstage of the creations, as in the kitchens of a great restaurant!
The Bach/Brahms Chaconne is played with the left hand alone, trying to reproduce the technical challenge imposed on the violinist. Mozart’s sonata, beyond its famous finale the Turkish march) opens with a wonderful series of variations, and Beethoven’s variations are a masterful demonstration of the art of variation, Beethoven transforming the piano into a veritable orchestra!
The Cage piece, 4’33”, is connected to the rest of my tour of Australia, which was devoted to the music of John Cage, among others. This very modern and daring piece is still relevant today and offers a kind of variation on silence that fits perfectly into the programme.
THE CAGE PROJECT
What is the significance of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes?
I am madly in love with John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano (1948). A major work of the 20th century, overwhelming, powerful, moving and just extraordinarily beautiful. My master at the Paris Conservatoire, Gérard Frémy, was a fervent supporter of this work, and close to John Cage. He recorded the work, as advised by Cage himself. I grew up with this recording, and when I had the opportunity a few years ago to finally play this cycle, it was a revelation.
This work is an exploration of different human emotions, based on Indian philosophy. Through these sixteen sonatas and four interludes, the composer is in search of a higher state, tranquillity. This initiatory journey is a kind of long meditation where the sense of time and space eventually merge and even disappear. All this is achieved through the use of this modified instrument with its magical sounds. The addition of objects inside the piano makes another instrument. I always introduce the concert by saying: this is not a recital and this is not a piano…
The rich and inspiring collaboration with Matthias Schack-Arnott was initiated by my friend and director of Musica Viva, Paul Kildea. We have known each other for 20 years, and he felt that my passion for this work could be combined with Matthias’ extraordinary creativity. The final object, which I cannot reveal, will transport the listener (I had originally written “traveller”!!) into the heart of Cage’s sound world, offering a visual incursion into the heart of this meditation. This will reveal a new dimension to this music, and will truly be like a waking dream. This concert is for everyone, connoisseurs or not, it is a unique sensory experience that will undoubtedly be unforgettable!
ABOUT CÉDRIC TIBERGHIEN
You’ve been playing the piano since you were five, I think? Why did you decide to learn to play the piano at that age?
I started when I was 5 years old, although I wish I had started earlier! The encounter with an instrument and its owner) is at the origin of all this. When I was still very young (2 years old), this lady, a piano teacher, showed me how the instrument worked, the mechanics, the strings, she played for me, and it was a huge shock. It was immediate, I wanted to play the piano. My parents were music lovers and my mother played the violin a little, so they were very open to music and supported me throughout my studies!
You credit your first piano teacher with the quality of curiosity that you feel is still important to you today. How did she instil curiosity in you and how do you maintain it?
Curiosity is the love of things you don’t know. My teacher introduced me to many things, from sports to fine arts, from music history to literature. I was always hungry to learn, hungry for new things, hungry for discovery. Today, I still seek that thrill when I hear a masterpiece for the first time. I think that from that point of view, I have really kept my childlike soul… curiosity makes me happy!
What do you like about the piano? Personally, I love it!
The piano is my confidant, it is the one who understands me, the one who allows me to express myself, the one with whom I am true. Music does not lie…. It has an exceptional richness, rhythmic, harmonic, and resonant; it is fascinating every day!
When and why did you decide to pursue the piano as a profession?
It was obvious. And many people surrounded me and encouraged me in this direction. It’s the pleasure of sharing the fascination of music with the public, of being a link between the composer, the work and the listener…. It’s a responsibility!
What is your favourite composition to play?
It’s impossible to give an answer. Every work I play becomes a part of me, and therefore becomes my favourite work!
And what is your favourite composition to listen to?
I don’t listen to much piano, I prefer the orchestra and the voice. The orchestra is the most beautiful instrument, it always overwhelms me.
Apart from classical music, what kind of music do you like to listen to or is classical music your whole life?
I listen to almost everything! I like to discover new things, I am very open-minded. I love jazz, but also bossa nova, fado, French songs from the 30s! Musicals, but also traditional music which touches me in a very direct way! My playlist is very varied!
Do you have a routine before the shows?
I like to work a lot on the day of the concert. It puts me in a particular state of confidence. I like to walk outside if possible, it clears my mind, and I meditate a bit just before I play. And just before I go on stage, I jump up and down!
Is there a dream venue you would like to play at?
There are mythical halls where I would like to play, the Teatro Colon in Bueno Aires, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (normally [that will happen] in May 2025!!), but also to discover intimate places with a great intensity (churches or open air places in the middle of nature)
We thank Cédric Tiberghien for this interview.
KEY INFO FOR CÉDRIC TIBERGHIEN’S AUSTRALIAN TOUR
WHAT: Sydney Symphony – Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade
Simone Young conducts Scheherazade and Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand with Cédric Tiberghien.
WHERE: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
- 7pm Thursday 16 February
- 11am Friday 17 February
- 2pm Saturday 18 February
HOW: Buy tickets through this link: https://www.sydneysymphony.com/concerts/rimsky-korsakovs-scheherazade
HOW MUCH: Tickets (excluding booking fee) start at $42.
WHAT: The Cage Project (worldwide premiere)
WHERE: Perth Concert Hall
WHEN: 7pm March 3
HOW: Buy your tickets through this link: https://www.perthfestival.com.au/events/the-cage-project/
HOW MUCH: Tickets (excluding booking fees) range from $25 to $79.
WHAT: Cédric Tiberghien in recital
WHERE: Adelaide Town Hall
WHEN: 7.30pm Monday 6 March
HOW: Buy tickets here: https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/events/cedric-tiberghien/
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices (excluding booking fees) are as follows:
- Adult: Premium $79, Reserve A $69, Reserve B $59
- Festival Friends: Premium $67, Reserve A $59, Reserve B $50
- Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): Reserve A $55, Reserve B $47
- Under 30 (ID required) Reserve A $35, Reserve B $30
- Full-time student (ID required): Reserve $ 30, Reserve B $ 25
WHAT: The Cage Project
WHERE: Grainger Studio, 91 Hindley Street ADELAIDE
WHEN: 9pm Tuesday March 7, 1pm and 7pm Wednesday March 8
HOW: Buy your tickets through this link: https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/events/the-cage-project/
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices (excluding booking fees) are as follows:
- Adult $69
- Friends of the Festival $59
- Concession (retired, health card holder, MEAA member) $55
- Under 30 (ID required) $35
- Full-time student (ID required) $30
If you are interested in classical music, you may also be interested in our interview with conductor Guillaume Tournaire