I don't listen to Bartok's solo piano music very often. When I do, I invariably reach for Hungarian pianists - Kocsis, Foldes, Sandor. Well, Cédric Tiberghien shows that at least one living French pianist can also play Bartok well. Generally crisp, well articulated, with fine dynamic shading, Tiberghien's renditions of the Sonata, Hungarian Folk Songs, Sonatina, Three Rondos of Slovak folk tunes, and Etudes all sound excellent. Maybe he doesn't have quite the "idiomatic" rhythmic flair that the others mentioned do in the folk-inspired music, but that hardly matters, especially when the Etudes are as masterfully done as they are here.
The solo works out of the way, the real reason I bought this disc was for the unquestioned masterpiece it contains: the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, where his fellow pianist is no less than François-Frédéric Guy, and the percussionists are Colin Currie and Sam Walton. I've managed to amass a small collection of this work, ranging qualitatively from the high of Argerich/Freire to the low of Perahia/Solti. This recording is nearer the high, thankfully. All four musicians play superbly, with the only possible complaint being that perhaps not enough incisive drive is evident at all times in the Allegro molto section of the first movement, but then the artists are hardly slouches in that area, and they deliver wallops when they need to, and the final movement is all vibrance and snap and sometimes even fun. The second movement is a marvel of coordination, and the clarity of the two piano parts is outstanding. Overall, if this must ultimately cede to both Argerich recordings, it is about on par with, or slightly better than, the Casadesus/Casadesus/Casadesus/Drouet recording.
A most enjoyable disc.