One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Deaconoff; Stockhausen

Live at the Clifton Festival

Choir at Clifton Cathedral


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Béla BARTÓK (1882-1945)
Piano Music - Volume 2
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz56 (1914-5) [5.14]
Fourteen Bagatelles, Op. 6 Sz38 [29.10]
Allegro barbaro, Sz49 (1911) [3.13]
Eight Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, (1920) Op. 20 Sz74 [14.09]
Mikrokosmos, Vol. 5 Sz107 [21.50]
Cédric Tiberghien (piano)
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, 1-3 March 2015
HYPERION CDA68133 [73.39]

Cédric Tiberghien’s survey of Bartók’s complete piano music continues on Hyperion. Although I didn’t catch the first volume, which included Book 6 of the Mikrokosmos and the Suite Op.14, the reviews were excellent (review). I can continue the plaudits as regards this second disc.

It's difficult to highlight one piece in particular but we can start with the extraordinary Fourteen Bagatelles. These are not as well known as they should be. In many ways Bartók was a miniaturist and this work has fourteen highly polished gems and varying lengths. Tiberghien proves himself a colourful pianist with especial subtlety reserved for number 12 - a Lento - with its gradual accelerando of repeated notes and with reminiscences of a cimbalom. Similarly I would also highlight number five, a excitable Vivo.

The Eight Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs are played equally colourfully. These are utterly fascinating pieces, also not often heard. They seem to be the nearest Bartók got to Stravinsky and are quite experimental in harmony and effect. Interestingly, as David Cooper’s eloquent notes make clear, this was the composer’s only work in 1920. The folk rhythms are still there but spiced up with even more originality. It must be remembered that Bartók had collected and annotated hundreds of folk-songs on his recording machine in the years around 1906-12. These were from Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania. It seems that he only used four of them in this work but the overall impression is one of ethnic understanding transmogrified.

The Romanian Folk Dances are six in number and are known in various versions. They are all melodies he collected. He adds harmonies and colours in a simpler way as if he is finding his feet in this form. They pre-date the Improvisations by a good five years.

It’s true to say that Tiberghien’s version of the famous Allegro barbaro is rather lacking in barbaro, but for me that’s no bad thing. I have heard this piece assaulted and used by pianists to show off their power. He also has a sense of freedom of pulse, which seems to be highly authentic and adds character.

There are six Mikrokosmos volumes and amongst the several pianists who have recorded them Jenö Jandó on Naxos manages to squeeze all of them onto a double CD (8.557821-22) playing with style and panache. They constitute teaching aids and with some pupils they can work well. That said many, in the UK anyway, find the lack of conventional melody, the regular time signature changes and the dissonances a bit of a ‘put-off’. Perhaps that’s why the exam boards have eschewed the books in the last decade or so. For the serious student there is no doubt that these pieces enable them to begin to grasp the essence of Bartók's language. In addition they cover the complete emotional range. In Volume 5 the pieces vary from wistful ‘whole-tone scales’ (track 43) to the spitefully aggressive Perpetuum mobile (track 44). Especially effective is the one called Boating (track 33). Each piece demands a different technical approach and many are bi-tonal. The traditional music of Hungary, Bulgaria (Bagpipe Music) and Romania (Jack-in-the-box) is always near the surface.

There are other pianists who have recorded some of this music with much success. However I see no reason to push any reader away from this new disc. It's beautifully recorded and as I have indicated, beautifully played.

Gary Higginson



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3



Aho Symphony 5

Dowland - A Fancy


Rachmaninov_ Babayan