In touch with Cédric Tiberghien:
An artist, not just a musician

credit: Benjamin Ealovega

credit: Benjamin Ealovega

‘If one day my passion for music fades, I would have done something else!’ the French pianist Cédric Tiberghien told me a few years ago when we first met in a practice room in Hong Kong. Time flies, but the fire inside Tiberghien is still burning. In his recent Carnegie Hall concert, the New York Times stated that he played Ravel’s Concerto in G ‘with rich, rounded tone in the lyrical stretches and fleet, crisp articulation.’ All these achievements began with his victory at the Long-Thibaud Competition in Paris in 1998, when he was only 23 years old. Here, Cédric Tiberghien tells you that the secret in keeping his passion for music, is sometimes, things that are outside of music.

CT: Cédric Tiberghien
JL: Jenny Lee

JL: I still remember that you told me about having passion for music is important for you to continue a career. How do you keep it burning for so many years?

CT: I got married in Paris! It is very important to have good balance between professional and private life. If my private life is not good, I cannot play the piano. Now I even have a baby. For me, having a family is important. I try to keep some free time for my family and for holidays. This also makes me play in a more sensitive way, because I can speak more about human experiences. When I am travelling a lot, home is like a charger, in which I can recharge my battery. I do practice at home, but not very much. The rest of the time, I spend it with my wife and my son, who is 2 years old now. He likes music and dance. But I will not push him to music. My wife is an actress and organizes a piano festival in France. Once we collaborated on a project, in which I played piano four hands, with her telling fairy tales. I also acted as the monster that ate little children.

JL: That’s incredible. Your colorful family life enriches your playing, doesn’t it?

CT: Yes. When you meet someone, he or she changes your life. We become richer by discovering new things in life. It makes me excited. If you know what’s going to happen, that is very boring. You have to invent, to explore, and to follow inspiration. Comfort is dangerous. If it is comfortable, you are not trying new things. For example, if the piano is not in a good condition, then I will try harder that sometimes miracles happen. When we do new things, we work a lot. I like to take this spontaneous quality on the stage. Others try to recreate what they planned, for me, it would be boring. Each concert is a new experience. I’d like to think of myself as an artist, not just a musician.

With Alina

With Alina

JL: You are playing a lot of chamber music with violinist Alina Ibragimova.

CT: With Alina, we have a lot of projects, the complete Beethoven sonatas, recording the complete Schubert. We enjoy exploring the repertoire, discovering things about music and ourselves. We usually meet a few weeks before a concert, to work for 4-5 days, for 6-7 hours per day. When we work, we don’t talk a lot. We just play and try something.

JL: How do you feel when you open a score?

CT: Every time I open a score, I feel excited. I love the music I play. I think about the composer, who gives a lot of himself in the music. I feel that it is a mission to communicate this. I have to tell everyone that it is a masterpiece. The whole point of my life is sharing my passion. You know when I play the piano, I give everything inside me. If I don’t love it, it is horrible. I would prefer to do something else. I feel very strong things. I want to share it with people because it is wonderful. I want everyone to feel it, even they are not musicians.

JL: Have you ever cried because of music?

CT: I never cry when I am performing. But when I listen to music, I cry easily. I also like tango music with singers. Tango music really moves me. I always listen to other music, like electro music. I love jazz very much. When I listen to Billie Holiday, her voice touches me a lot.

JL: How do you spend your leisure time?

CT: My life outside of music is very important to me. I like being with my son. Gardening is really wonderful too. I like going to the park, to the cinema, to the theatre, playing chess, and of course, reading. When travelling, I always bring a book with me.

Official Website

Chopin: Ballade No. 3, Op. 47 (Allegretto)


Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien will be performing in HK on 22 September, 2013 at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall.

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