Saturday 7 February 2015

Universal Classics bring together two live recitals that show pianist Daniil Trifonov to be a rare talent

Universal Classics  have usefully brought together two live recordings from pianist Daniil Trifonov , Decca’s Daniil Trifonov plays Frederic Chopin and Deutsche Grammophon’s Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital thus bringing us two discs of some of the finest live music making.

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Daniil Trifonov was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia in 1991. He started playing the piano when he was five old and gave his first performance with orchestra at the age of eight. He studied with Tatiana Zelikman at Moscow’s Gnessin School of Music. 

At the age of 17 Trifonov won fifth prize in Moscow’s Fourth International Scriabin Competition. In May 2011 he began by winning the 13th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel-Aviv before returning home to secure first prize, the Gold Medal, and Grand Prix at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, also winning the Audience Award and the Award for the best performance of a Mozart concerto. In February 2013, Deutsche Grammophon announced the signing of an exclusive recording agreement with Daniil Trifonov.

Since winning the Tchaikovsky Competition, Trifonov has travelled the world as recitalist and concerto soloist appearing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Tokyo’s Opera City and the Zurich Tonhalle.

He has appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra.

Daniil Trifonov’s live recital disc for Decca, Daniil Trifonov plays Frederic Chopin, was recorded at the Teatro la Fenice, Venice in May 2010 and the Fazioli Hall, Sacile, Italy in November 2010.

Trifonov finds some lovely rhythmic qualities in Chopin’s Rondo ‘à la Mazur’ in F major, Op.5 bringing a lovely playfulness, full of character together with his beautiful touch, so light and delicate. There is an insight and thoughtfulness here and a fine surge of power towards the end.

The Grande Valse Brillante in E flat major, Op.18 has lightly sprung phrases combined with an amazing dexterity. There is tremendous playing here with a fine rubato, and some fine shaping of phrases.  The same tremendous fluidity is given to the Etude in F minor, Op.10 No.8, a quicksilver, fleeting vision.

In the Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op.22 Trifonov brings a beautiful right hand theme trickled over a fluid left hand line, a gently conceived performance, full of atmosphere. Trifonov delivers some most exquisite playing with fine control and colouring of phrases and a lovely intimacy and spontaneity. He delivers a fine control with some lovely little details with a marvellous fluidity and delicacy. There are some fine dynamic passages, full of power and what a lovely rubato he has.

Next Trifonov plays Chopin’s three Op.56. Mazurka No.33 in B major, Op.56 No.1 opens with a fine sense of mystery before Trifonov allows the music to develop, delivering an absolutely wonderful performance full of subtlety, brilliantly wrought. Trifonov gives a terrific rhythmic punch to the Mazurka No.34 in C major, Op.56 No.2 delivering a really turbulent performance whilst the Mazurka No.35 in C minor, Op.56 No.3 opens thoughtfully before moments of turbulence and drama with, again Trifonov beautifully developing and shaping the music, drawing on all of Chopin’s mood changes.

By contrast the opening of the Allegro maestoso of Chopin’s Sonata No.3 in B minor, Op.58 brings a firm, direct presence. Soon, however, Trifonov shows how he can reveal the subtleties in this music with more, fine rubato and developing lovely bubbling, rising passages as well as some lovely trickling phrases. There are moments of introspective thoughtfulness to contrast with an increasing level of stormier emotion.

Trifonov’s light rippling touch brings a lovely fluent flow to the Scherzo: Molto Vivace together with a sense of freedom and spontaneity with some passages of real strength and power.

The Largo has a strangely withdrawn, poise in the opening but, when the main theme arrives it is absolutely beautiful, Trifonov having led perfectly to the moment. Again there is a feel of spontaneity as he builds to a fine central peak.  

This pianist delivers a finely paced Finale: Presto non tanto with a lovely rubato as the finale develops, bringing a sense of fire and turbulence with some incredible dexterity, so fluent. A terrific conclusion to this intense, searching performance that reveals so much.  

This is a most impressive recital with a live recording that is clear and detailed though a little closely miked. Applause is kept in after the Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante and at the end of the disc.

The second disc of this set, Deutsche Grammophon’s Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital was recorded live at the Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall, New York City in February 2013.

Daniil Trifonov has been drawn to Scriabin’s music since his early teens, something that shows to a remarkable extent in his performance here of the Piano Sonata No.2 in G sharp minor, Op.19 ‘Sonata-Fantasy.’ When I received the review copy of this set I played the Scriabin sonata first and was mesmerised by Trifonov’s extraordinary musicality. In the Andante it is remarkable how he slowly reveals Scriabin’s subtle theme. Here is playing of the utmost sensitivity and understanding. He rises to moments of great passion so naturally bringing sublime music making. He follows with a brilliantly impressive Presto where his superb touch and articulation is to the fore.

We need to hear more of Trifonov’s Scriabin.

The Lento assai opening of Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178 is perhaps one of the most considered and thoughtful I have heard. Trifonov goes on to bring some very fine articulation, touch, phrasing and shaping of the music, by turns stormy and poetic. Liszt’s sudden little mood changes are exquisitely shaped and there is a terrific tautness as he darts here and there. There is some formidable playing in the more dynamic passages and a feeling of nostalgic calm as the music leads into the Piu mosso.  When the rising motif returns the sense of inevitability is profound. There are some most exquisite hushed passages with such a lovely light touch before the music moves swiftly into full flood again, leading to a terrific reprisal of the rising theme as Trifonov gently, beautifully and carefully brings the hushed coda.

Here is a B minor sonata that takes some beating.

Chopin appears on this second disc in the form of his 24 Preludes, Op.28. The Prelude in C major is gently and nimbly produced before a beautifully hushed and delicate Prelude in A minor. Trifonov’s fine touch and phrasing gives us a nimble Prelude in G major and a quicksilver Prelude in D major framing the Prelude in E minor where this pianist catches Chopin’s introspective side in this beautifully phrased and paced performance.

The Prelude in B minor brings a nostalgic isolation, so hushed and sensitive before Trifonov reveals the Prelude in A major as a strange little dance. Trifonov is tremendous in the Prelude in F sharp minor bringing wonderful rippling phrases with his lovely touch and rubato, revealing Chopin’s stormier nature.

The Prelude in E major hovers between resolution and retrospection, holding a fine balance. There are some very fine passages in the Prelude in C sharp minor, so lightly and delicately brought off as with the Prelude in B major. The Prelude in G sharp minor brings well sprung rhythms and a lovely sense of spontaneity as well as a super little coda.

We return to Chopin’s melancholy nature with the Prelude in F sharp major, exquisitely hushed before a Prelude in E flat minor that has a terrific stormy undertow. Chopin’s famous Prelude in D flat major, the so called Raindrop Prelude, has a purity and delicacy as well as some lovely rubato, building to a very fine peak.
The Prelude in B flat minor brings more of Trifonov’s fine fluent playing before a Prelude in A flat major that has a lovely poise, so finely shaped.

There is thrilling playing in the Prelude in F minor with Trifonov’s fine fluent touch that he used to fine effect in an exquisite Prelude in E flat major. The Prelude in C minor has such clarity and restraint with the Prelude in B flat major bringing a lighter relief, finely judged with exquisite dynamics.

Trifonov bringing his fine rubato and phrasing to bear on the stormier Prelude in G minor climbs before the wonderful delicacy of the Prelude in F major. He doesn’t hold back in the stormy Prelude in D minor providing a tremendous rhythm and making this a terrific conclusion to these preludes.

There is so much depth and understanding in this very fine performance of Chopin’s multi-faceted Preludes.

As an encore Daniil Trifonov plays Nicolai Medtner’s Skazki (Tales), Op.26 No.2 in E flat major, light and transparent, superbly phrased with lovely light touch, full of panache and joy.

The live recording is excellent in every way. Applause is kept in after the Preludes and after the encore.

In these two recitals Daniil Trifonov shows himself to be a rare talent that I look forward to hearing much more from.

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