Piano

Julien Libeer

“The complete musician, who unites, at any musical moment, a true understanding of the piece, a solid intellectual approach and an infallible instinct for the impalpable.” Maria João Pires

© Athos Burez

Introduction

Born in 1987 near Brussels, Belgium, Julien Libeer’s earliest musical memory was the famous documentary on the recording of West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. The piano, which he took up at age six, quickly became the faithful companion for expressing a love of music that thrives as much on opera, orchestra, and chamber music as on the piano repertoire.

Julien has performed at the Palais des Beaux-Arts and Flagey (Brussels), Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), Barbican Hall (London), Auditorio Nacional (Madrid), Palau de la Música (Barcelona), Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg) and Concertgebouw (Amsterdam). In addition, other tours have taken him to Japan (Tokyo, Sumida Tryphony Hall), Lebanon (Beirut Chants festival), Turkey (Ankara Music Festival) and the US (Miami International Piano Festival).

He has performed with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Brussels Philharmonic, Belgian National Orchestra, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia and New Japan Philharmonic; under conductors including Trevor Pinnock, Michel Tabachnik, Augustin Dumay, Hervé Niquet, Joshua Weilerstein, Enrique Mazzola, and Christopher Warren-Green.

Highlights of the 2019/20 season include solo recitals at the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Concertgebouw (Bruges), Flagey (Brussels), Philharmonic Hall (Liège), Schouwburg (Kortrijk), Cultuurcentrum (Hasselt), Muziekcentrum van de Omroep (Hilversum) and Steinway International Concert Series (Cardiff). In addition, he will perform duo recitals with Lorenzo Gatto at the Théâtre des Abbesses (Paris), Chapelle Corneille (Rouen), Beirut Chants Festival, Cultuurcentrum (Hasselt), Wesley Chapel (Harrogate), and chamber music concerts at the De Doelen (Rotterdam), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Charleroi), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) and Concertgebouw (Bruges).


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Discography

  • More info  
    06 Feb 20 Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor
    Het Concertgebouw

    “Eloquent, begripvol en ook in de treurmars aristocratisch en zonder tranentuiterij. Een grote lezing door een pianist die geen wedstrijd nodig heeft gehad om, jawel, de meester in zich te doen vermoeden.”

    Eloquent, thoughtful, aristocratic and without cheap sentimentalism, even in the funeral march. A grand reading by a pianist who hasn’t needed a competition to reveal the master he is.

    Rudy Tambuyser, Pianist Magazine, Feb 2020

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    31 Jan 20 CD: Bach / Bartok - Piano Suites

    ” […] vormen niet de overeenkomsten, maar de tegenstellingen de kracht van dit album. Libeer laat Bachs Vijfde Franse Suite en Tweede Partita doorzichtig stromen door een rotsachtige bedding. Ook Bartóks Out of Doors en Opus 16 blijven helder, maar doen eerder denken aan de zwarte spiegeling van een diep bergmeer.”

    […] not the similarities, but the contradictions, form the strength of this album. Libeer lets Bach’s Fifth French Suite and Second Partita flow transparently through a rocky bed. Bartók’s Out of Doors and Opus 16 also remain clear, but are more reminiscent of the black reflection of a deep mountain lake.

    Joost Galema, NRC, 12 Feb 2020

     

    “Julien Libeer’s Bach takes full advantage of the modern concert grand’s dynamic and timbral resources while keeping within stylistically acceptable parameters […]. [Bartók’s Out of Doors suite] Libeer gauges the delicate clusters and slow octave cantabiles of ‘The Night’s Music’ with shimmering impact, and juggles the polyrhythmic strands in ‘The Chase’ with the utmost control and clarity, while keeping the momentum alive.”

    Jed Distler, Gramophone, Mar 2020

     

    “Un peu plus de deux cents ans séparent les partitions […], mais la façon de faire chanter ces évocations poétiques, notamment de la vie de la nuit, dans une atmosphère polyphonique aux ornementations contrastées, comporte une dimension « mystique » qui rejoint la foi de Bach, transposée chez Bartók dans la passion pour la nature. Les similitudes du message sont astucieusement mises en évidence par le jeu de Julien Libeer, détaché, précis et dynamique, jusque dans le presto de la dont le rythme est souple.”

    A little more than two hundred years separate [Bach’s French Suite No. 5 and Bartók’s Out of Doors suite], but the way of making these poetic evocations, especially of the night life, sing in a polyphonic atmosphere with contrasting ornaments, has a “mystical” dimension which joins Bach’s faith, transposed in Bartók’s passion for nature. The similarities of the message are cleverly highlighted by Julien Libeer’s playing, detached, precise and dynamic, even in the presto of the Poursuite whose rhythm is flexible.

    Jean Lacroix, Crescendo Magazine, 27 Feb 20

     

    “In Bach Bartók (Harmonia Mundi), the Belgian pianist Julien Libeer has found a way of presenting JS Bach’s keyboard work afresh, alongside Bartók’s contrasting, percussive music for piano […] It’s no surprise to find Libeer names the Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti (1917-50) as an influence. Libeer, too, in his Bach, has a similar purity of style, finesse and a fluid, rhythmic energy.”

    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 01 Mar 20

     

    “[Julien] combina hábilmente una apasionada intuición con un sentido de rigor formal, para presentar cuatro ejemplos magistrales del género “suite” en un diálogo que abarca los siglos que separan a esas dos “B” enormes del universo musical.”

    [Julien] combines passionate intuition with a sense of formal rigor, to present four masterful examples of the genre “suite” in a dialogue spanning the centuries that separate those two huge “Bs” within the musical universe.

    Jesús Vega, El Nuevo Herald, 04 Mar 20

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    15 Nov 19 CD: BEETHOVEN Violin Sonatas Nos. 3, 6, 7 & 8 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

    “[…] the last instalment in Lorenzo Gatto and Julian Libeer’s complete cycle – does a fine job of capturing both its nervous energy and its ambiguity: moving from a taut Adagio to a Scherzo that almost seems to skip with glee, and then on to a finale that sweeps in like a summer storm.”

    Richard Bratby, Gramophone, January 2020

    “This duo’s playing bursts with lively energy and good taste without short-changing the rawness that gives Beethoven its edge.”

    BBC Music Magazine, April 2020

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    01 Nov 18 CD: BEETHOVEN Violin Sonatas Nos. 1, 10 & 5 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018

    “It might seem perverse to begin a chamber review by discussing the piano, especially when the violinist Lorenzo Gatto is playing the 1698 ‘Joachim’ Strad. But listen to even a few bars of Op 12 No 1 and I suspect you, too, will be sent back to the booklet in search of more information … This is deeply unshowy Beethoven but it’s intensely sincere and it sounds entirely new. Try it.”

    Richard Bratby, November 2018, Gramophone

     

     

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    15 May 17 Mozart, Bach & Beethoven
    Musée Dapper, Paris

    with Lorenzo Gatto

    “Julien Libeer’s readings are a formidable demonstration of musical spontaneity. He is all but a self-indulgent pianist : his renditions are never demonstrative, yet his simplicity never excludes richness of invention. Rather than overstating them, his musical ideas are always integrated to the story, without any didactic pretentions.”
    ★★★★★ Julien Hanck, 15 May 2017, Bachtrack

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    13 May 17 Miami Piano Festival
    Colony Theatre, Miami

    “Libeer opened the program with Bach’s French Suite in G Major, a seven-part work originally written for harpsichord. Libeer displayed glistening, translucent tone in the first two sections, Allemande and Courant, then in the third section Sarabande previewed the subtle sense of timing and ability to portray tranquil moods that would prove to be his most remarkable attribute.”
    Dave Rosenbaum, 13 May 2017, South Florida Classical Review

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    03 Jun 16 CD: BEETHOVEN Violin Sonatas Nos. 9, 4 & 2 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2016

    “A musician of the highest order. His mastery of musical discourse, splendid sonority, constant alertness, as well as his infinity ability to shape sound are simply remarkable.”
    Patrice Lieberman, 8 September 2016, Crescendo Magazine

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    31 Oct 15 CD: Lignes Claires Evil Penguin records 2015

    “An astonishing sense of diction and character. A pianist of great sensitivity and refinement, an ever-convincing storyteller.”
    Bertrand Boissard, Diapason Magazine