FRENCH pianist Cédric Tiberghien is looking forward to performing in Harrogate, where he recalls audiences enthusing when he played pieces by Bela Bartok for his upcoming repertoire.

Tiberghien, whose flourishing career takes him to five continents, will open Harrogate International Festivals’ Sunday Series of morning concerts on January 24 at the Old Swan Hotel.

His 11am programme will comprise Mozart's Piano Sonata No.14 in C Minor, three Bartok Burlesques and Bartok's Sonata for Piano, plus Chopin's 24 Preludes, Opus 28.

“Harrogate is not only a beautiful place, but also where audiences have been very accessible to my performance,” says the 40-year-old Frenchman.

“I feel like I'm playing for friends in an intimate space and I already know there will be an exceptional audience. The community of the audience is easier than in a concert hall of 2,000 people. There is a marvellous feeling that you are connecting. I adore that.”

Tiberghien began his Bartok focus in November at London’s Wigmore Hall, where he gave two solo recitals of key works from Bartok’s solo piano repertoire, including the folk-inspired Burlesques, which he will play in Harrogate too. So this time you could say he has warmed up at the Wigmore Hall for Harrogate.

“Every concert I give is like a preparation for the next one,” he says. “And it is such a luxury that I have been able to choose my own programme. The Chopin Preludes speak to everyone. It is a popular part of my repertoire. The Mozart Sonata is one of his greatest works.

"At the moment, I have a focus on Bartok, who is one of my favourite composers. There are a lot of clichés and prejudices about Bartok because many people don’t know much about his music, so they find it scary. This means some venues fear having Bartok on the programme in case it is a disaster. But he has an enormous range of work and I have always had spectacularly positive reactions from audiences. People always say ‘wow’."

The process of performing pieces he loves makes Tiberghien feel completely alive. "I am so lucky I can express my emotion and communicate with other people in this way," he says. "It’s important to do this, not just through classical music, but in everyday life.”

Tiberghien began playing the piano aged five, later studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Frédéric Aguessy and Gérard Frémy and was awarded the Premier Prix in 1992 at only 17. He now has more than 60 concertos in his repertoire, appears with some of the world’s finest orchestras and is a dedicated chamber musician.

The 2016 Sunday Series also will feature the Navarra String Quartet on February 7; clarinet virtuoso Michael Collins, March 6; violinist Hyeyoon Park and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, March 20 and pianist John Lill, April 3.Harrogate International Festivals’ 50th anniversary will be marked by a one-off evening performance by the Simón Bolívar String Quartet on March 12 at the Royal Hall.

For tickets, phone 01423 562 303 or book online at