“He has everything and more ... tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that.”
Born in Nizhniy Novgorod in 1991, Daniil Trifonov is one of the brightest names of the next generation of pianists. His reputation for outstanding performances, musical insight and expressive intensity has already surpassed the attention he received during the 2010/11 season when he won medals at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw (Third Prize), the Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv (First Prize) and the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (First Prize and Grand Prix, an additional honour bestowed on the best overall competitor in any category). In 2013, he was also awarded the prestigious Franco Abbiati Prize for Best Instrumental Soloist by Italy’s foremost music critics. Prior to that, Trifonov received awards at the Scriabin Competition of Moscow and at the San Marino International competition, and received a Guzik Foundation Career Grant in 2009.
Highlights of recent seasons have included debuts with the Vienna Philharmonic (tour and subscription concerts), London Symphony and Mariinsky Orchestras with Gergiev, Israel Philharmonic with Mehta, Philharmonia Orchestra with Maazel, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Harth-Bedoya, Philadelphia Orchestra with Macelaru, San Francisco Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra with Vanska, Russian National Orchestra with Pletnev, New York Philharmonic with Gilbert, Cleveland Orchestra with Gaffigan, Boston Symphony with Guerrero, Chicago Symphony and Royal Philharmonic with Dutoit, Orchestra Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Elder, Oslo Philharmonic with Petrenko and Danish Radio Symphony with Noseda, as well as performances with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestra Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Warsaw Philharmonic, and collaborations with Vladimir Fedoseyev, Sir Neville Marriner and Antoni Wit.
Recital debuts have included the Stern Auditorium of New York Carnegie Hall, Washington Kennedy Center, Boston Celebrity Series, London Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Paris Auditorium du Louvre, Brussels Palais de Beaux Arts, Zurich Tonhalle and Lucerne Piano Festival, Milano Sala Verdi, Tokyo Opera City, and many others. Daniil Trifonov has also been presented by the major festivals of Europe: Verbier, Lucerne, Montreux, Tivoli, Edinburgh, Lockenhaus, Grafenegg, La Roque d'Anthéron, Klavier Festival Ruhr; while in the USA he appeared at Blossom, Ravinia and Chautauqua festivals.
The 2014/15 season and beyond sees Daniil Trifonov performing with prestigious international orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Vienna Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Cleveland and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. In 2015, Trifonov will perform the complete Rachmaninov Piano Concerti with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, London and in October 2014, he toured Japan with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Gergiev.
Trifonov’s upcoming recitals include returns to Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw’s Master Piano Series, Théatre des Champs Elysées, Tokyo’s Opera City, Wigmore Hall, Munich Herkulesaal and Barcelona’s Palau de la Musica. In September 2014, Trifonov made his recital debut at London’s Royal Festival Hall when he opened the 2014/15 International Piano Series.
Daniil Trifonov is also a noted chamber musician and will give festival performances with musicians such as Nicholas Angelich, Renaud Capuçon, Gautier Capuçon, Yuri Bashmet and Vilde Frang, a piano duo tour of the US with Sergei Babayan and concerts in London, Paris and Zurich with the Pavel Haas Quartet.
Daniil Trifonov began his musical studies at the age of five. He studied at Moscow Gnesin School of Music in the class of Tatiana Zelikman (2000-2009). From 2006 to 2009 he also studied composition and has continued to write piano, chamber and orchestral music since then. When he premiered his own piano concerto in spring 2014, the Cleveland Plain Dealer commented, “Even having seen it, one cannot quite believe it. Such is the artistry of pianist-composer Daniil Trifonov.” Since 2009, he has studied piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music in the class of Sergei Babayan.
In February 2013, Deutsche Grammophon announced the signing of an exclusive recording agreement with Daniil Trifonov. Last season saw the release of Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, his first recording as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist which has subsequently won a Grammy Award nomination. Trifonov’s next release for the label will be a recording of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. His discography also includes a disc of Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra which was released on the Mariinsky label in 2012. His first CD was released on Decca in 2011, featuring a selection of Chopin solo works.
Daniil Trifonov is represented by Intermusica, email@example.com
January 2015 / 702 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Birmingham International Concert Season / Bach, Rachmaninov, Liszt
“The galloping horses careered and thundered in Mazeppa but Trifonov didn’t just stun and amaze, he seduced us with a beautiful limpid tone as when the theme is temporarily tamed and transformed and Liszt asks for it to be sung Il canto espressivo. The contrasted sections in Wilde Jagd were just as sensitively executed while the will-o-the-wisps in Feux follets were nimble, gossamer-light and utterly captivating…
In Liszt’s arrangement of Bach’s organ Fantasia and Fugue in G minor Trifonov’s playing was powerful, dignified and grand, but never grandiose. Rachmaninov’s Chopin Variations… were sparkling, with the slow eleventh variation and the theme’s final return particularly effective. Rachmaninov’s transcription of a Bach violin gavotte was an apt and charming encore.”
Birmingham Post, five stars, October 2014
International Piano Series, Royal Festival Hall / Bach, Rachmaninov, Liszt
“There’s a paradoxical dimension to musical prodigies. On the one hand they deliver more than we can realistically demand. On the other we tend to demand more than they can realistically deliver, at least in terms of maturity. But occasionally we find one so far evolved beyond our expectations that all we can do is gasp. Such is the case with Daniil Trifonov…
This performance was as remarkable for its restraint as it was for its passion: imagine a fire-breathing dragon being dragged along on a leash and you have some measure of Trifonov’s musical temperament. It makes for interpretations of painful intensity, and the programme opener – Liszt’s arrangement of Bach’s Fantasy and Fugue in G minor, BWV542 – was no exception. Every note in this Baroque-Romantic hybrid was made subservient to the overall structure, Trifonovyanking on the reins whenever his emotions threatened to boil over. So when he finally gave in to them, the sense of catharsis was almost overwhelming.
The same judiciousness marked Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin, Op 22, in which Trifonov unveiled a huge spectrum of colours. This pianist has a lightness of touch that has to be heard to be believed. But whether at his most delicate or most thunderous what stood out above all else was his musical sincerity.
Indeed, nothing about Trifonov sounds contrived or flashy for its own sake – a characteristic that paid dividends in Liszt’s highly charged 12 Etudes d’exécution transcendante, S139. This piece may make savage demands of the pianist, but Trifonov’s technical prowess, though astonishing, was simply a means to an end. The main point of wonder was his emotional agility; the way he leapt from the feral rumblings of the “Wild Hunt” to the tenderness of the “Ricordanza”; the way his touch or tempo would suddenly metamorphose into something completely unexpected, without it once coming across as unnatural. He looked and sounded like a person possessed: clearly even he couldn't resist his own spell.”
Financial Times, five stars, October 2014
“Trifonov took no time at all to conjure up the grandeur and rhetoric of this work originally composed for organ. But he also found its sense of mystery, coaxing beautiful sounds from the Fazioli piano. The fugue was an early highlight in a remarkable recital, played with delicacy, meticulous care and a smoothness that suggested the music was indeed rolling out of a resonant building.
One thing that sets Trifonov apart from the typical pianistic juggernauts of the Russian school is the humility and imagination of his musicianship. In a fiendishly demanding programme, also featuring all 12 Transcendental Studies by Liszt (another arranger of Chopin, but also a friend), he had all the audacious virtuosity required, yet never made an ugly sound. Trifonov is a player equally capable of the gentle dreaminess of Paysage and the wild, diabolical chase of Mazeppa.”
Daily Telegraph, five stars, October 2014
“From the start the hallmarks that can make you fall wholesale for Trifonov’s artistry were more than apparent: his ability to evoke a sense of improvisation was out in force, together with masterful control of a gripping musical narrative that remains immediate and inspired without ever losing its logic. The quietude of the fugue theme was exquisitely controlled, the tone close to conjuring an organ pipe far away in the stratospheres…
At home in a work he clearly knows backwards [Rachmaninov Variations on a Theme of Chopin], Trifonov allowed his sonic imagination to evoke a wealth of marvels. Especially noteworthy was his remarkable depth of perspective in, for instance, Variation 13 – a quasi-choral cantilena offset by distant glimmers that could have come from another galaxy. Throughout the rapid variations, too, he layered the dazzling twists and turns of Rachaminov’s contrapuntal writing into a remarkable luminescent tapestry. The final buildup and explosion into a grand polonaise, which ultimately vapourises to leave behind the theme at its bleakest, had a grandeur and fantastical, demoniac tinge that would not disgrace the scene of the Walpurgis Night Ball in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita…
Performing Liszt’s 12 Études live in concert is not a task that many pianists would dare set themselves… such a rare occasion is to be treasured; and Trifonov’s ascent of these craggyrockfaces featured moments of magic that will linger in the memory for a very long time…
The finest of the set contained some of the most astonishing piano playing one could hope to hear anywhere in the world. These were the Études that are lyrical in aspect or require the lightest possible fingerwork: Trifonov proved the worth of an approach that, rather than projecting outwards at every turn, instead pulls the audience’s attention forward into active listening. Less was definitely more. Feux Follets in particular shone out as an interpretation that transcended the ferocious technique it needs, capturing the other-worldly poetry of the "Will-o-the-Wisps" idea as well as its iridescent delicacy. Paysage and Ricordanza were both as soft and silky as fine fur.
The set concluded with a pair of pieces in which our young star exceeded even his own high standards… in Harmonies du Soir, perhaps the most sensually beautiful of the Études, he weighted each harmony in the initial build-up with a different significance and colour, later declaiming the melodic lines with the quiet magnetism and authority of a top performance poet. Finally Chasse-neige was paced and voiced so convincingly that one almost felt swallowed alive by the blizzard as it approached and struck.
To top everything, Trifonov offered an encore of Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau
(from Images Book I) – perfectly balanced and as cool and refreshing as a dip in a mountain lake after an exceedingly hot sauna.”
Jessica Duchen, Arts Desk
, October 2014
“Trifonov made it a special occasion, for there’s never anything automatic or routine about his performances… Not many pianists can play all 12 of Liszt’s Transcendental Studies at a single sitting and make the whole experience so consistently rewarding, nor play so many notes with such unflinching precision without ever producing an ugly sound or a smudged texture. Whether it was the ease with which he spun off the dancing double notes of the fifth study, Feux Follets, the control of his rampaging octaves in the seventh, Eroica, or the sheer lyrical beauty with which he invested the ninth, Ricordanza, all were products of a hugely imaginative and refined musical mind…
If it was good to hear the neglected Rachmaninov played with such affection and control, it was even more special to hear the Bach fugue unfolded with such breathtaking clarity and poise.”
The Guardian, October 2014
“It’s hard to list all the qualities a pianist needs – stamina, virtuosity, sensitivity, clarity and poetry must be among them – but safe to say Daniil Trifonov… has them all…
In the Bach-Liszt, Trifonov’s fulsome tone, never forced and always satisfying, came into its own in the thick chordal writing and chromatic harmonies of the Fantasy, which turned into an almost lyrical fluidity for the lone voice that opened the following Fugue. But the Rachmaninov, which followed without a break for applause, was the true triumph here. Moments of grandeur alternated with quicksilver fingerwork and long-spun melodies of ineffable beauty all the while tinged with that Rachmaninovian sense of underlying turbulence and darkness. When Chopin's theme returned, its few bars seem to have accumulated all the emotional power and resonance of what had gone before.”
Classical-music.com, October 2014
“He plays with the commanding presence, exceptional technical facility and deep commitment a professional artist thrice his years would envy…
Superlatives quickly become redundant when attempting to describe the pianistic feats of this young artist…there’s more, far more, to Daniil Trifonov than fleet fingers. In the Bach, in particular in the Fugue, his sense of voicing, contrasting textures and dynamic nuancing was utterly convincing…
There was much to admire in Trifonov’s account of these works [Liszt’s 12 Études d’exécution transcendante], not least his ability to take them beyond a mere catalogue of virtuosity, revealing the narratives and poetry within the music, unearthing layers of meaning, character and subtleties from the otherwise dense scoring.”
Bachtrack, October 2014
London Symphony Orchestra / Valery Gergiev
Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2
“Trifonov's performance was a marvel, a mixture of exuberance and fabulous subtlety, as remarkable for the delicate precision of his wispy pianissimos as for the irrepressible energy of its grandstanding rhetoric.”
Guardian, April 2014
“Still only 23, Trifonov is now maturing into an artist of breathtaking poise and theatricality. Opting here for the lighter, brighter sonorities of a Fazioli piano — it has been a while since anyone ousted a Steinway from the Barbican — his performance of the F minor concerto dealt in small miracles that made up a thrilling bigger picture. The Mozartian elegance of the first movement flowered into a gorgeous tapestry of light and shade, tension and release. Above all, Trifonov tapped into Chopin’s sense of freedom at the piano, and his joy in its potential.
The Fazioli really came into its own in a daring second movement, given stronger relief than its reverie is normally permitted, before Trifonov playfully whisked us into the glittering diablerie of theclimactic mazurka. The Russian’s spidery fingers then gave us a final gift, a virtuosic play on the Gavotte from Bach’s E major Partita.”
Times, April 2014
Minnesota Orchestra / Michael Christie
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2
“The master of the elements was 22-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. Currently one of classical music's most talked-about musicians, Trifonov demonstrated why during his Minnesota Orchestra debut. He took a piece that's become a fount of bombast in the hands of some -- Sergei Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto -- and brought out the beauty at its contemplative core, yet didn't shortchange its urgent explosiveness.
It was a simply magnificent performance, one that left me dumbfounded as to how someone so youthful could have such a deep understanding of Rachmaninoff, not to mention the technical skills to summon such furious flurries of notes and lyrical lines of arresting intimacy. Trifonov not only possesses marvelous musicality, but he's a joy to watch, attacking the piano with such ferocity it seemed an insufficient conduit for his passion. He bounced on the bench and almost off it, seemingly imploring the instrument to give more.
And that was just the first movement. The ensuing Adagio had a different kind of intensity, sounding like a heartfelt confession, soft yet piercing. On the finale, Trifonov leaned over the keyboard like a chemist crafting a concoction quite unlike any other, bringing whispering pianissimos to a piece in which they are rarely found. An extended standing ovation resulted in an encore, Chopin's E-flat "Grande valse brillante." It underlined the impression that this young pianist is both "grande" and "brillante."
Pioneer Press, February 2014
“Trifonov… is a master who combines control and abandon, precision and spontaneity. His technique, though astounding, is the least of it; the man is a native speaker of the language of the romantic piano, a 21st-century counterpart of Liszt. (Like Liszt, he composes: in April he’ll premiere a piano concerto in Cleveland, where, even after winning the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions, he continues to study.)
Trifonov’s realization of Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto was transformative — a lesson in the rehabilitation of a warhorse, to my mind surpassing Rachmaninoff’s own recording with Leopold Stokowski. Particularly in the nocturnal Adagio, soloist and orchestra danced bewitchingly. And the pianist’s Chopin encore (the E-flat Waltz, Op. 18) was magical in its delicacy: golden-age playing from a 22-year-old.”
Star Tribune, February 2014
Recording: The Carnegie Recital (Deutsche Grammophon)
Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor; Scriabin: Piano Sonata No.2 op.19; ‘Sonata Fantasy’; Chopin: 24 Préludes op. 28; Medtner: Four Fairy Tales op.26 No.2
“With these [Choping Preludes] we enter a different world. What makes this even more striking is that he was only 21 at the time… What’s impressive here is not just the magnificent and reactive pianism on show but also his maturity. His Chopin Preludes possess a stunning élan: magnificently ethereal in the F sharp minor, tenderly delicate in the C sharp minor…
The Liszt Sonata is fever-pitched, à la Argerich. At its finest, it’s simply stunning: the launch into the fugal Allegro energico has both delicacy and a swagger as Trifonov elucidates the contrapuntal writing with apparent ease… this is a truly exciting debut, and the recording imbues it with both clarity and atmosphere.”
Gramophone, December 2013
Wigmore Hall / Stravinksy, Debussy, Ravel, Schumann
“Virtuosity is one thing; youthful exuberance another. Many aspiring talents survive on just one of these qualities. A lucky few have both. No one combines them with musical maturity the way Daniil Trifonov does. The technical brilliance is always at the service of his powerful imagination. The exuberance is controlled by his natural musicianship. What makes him such a phenomenon is the ecstatic quality he brings to his performances – an all-consuming intensity-of-belonging on the public platform that translates into something thrilling, absorbing, inspiring. Small wonder every western capital is in thrall to him.”
Financial Times, five stars, October 2013
“This was a showman's programme that left no doubt as to the brilliance and power of Trifonov's playing, reinforced by three encores.
He leapt at the opening crashes of Stravinsky's Serenade in A like a cat pouncing on a mouse; the fast episodes in particular were dazzling, with Trifonov picking out heavily accented melodies from cascades of notes that otherwise coursed up and down with delicious lightness. The second of two pieces from Debussy's Images, entitled Mouvement, seemed to revolve around a motor purring in the middle of the keyboard while bells rang either side…
Towards the end, he created an explosion of brilliant sound that saw him lift clean off his seat. Trifonov's precision was perfect for the last Ravel piece in his set, Alborada del gracioso, his impossibly fast repeated notes conjuring up the sound of clacking castanets.
Schumann's Op 13 Etudes Symphoniques crowned the programme, drawing out a convincingly romantic sensibility from Trifonov, who gave the impression of playing with passionate abandon while in fact maintaining taut control.”
Guardian, October 2013
International Piano Series, Southbank Centre
Scriabin, Liszt & Chopin
“Trifonov is an utterly thrilling prospect; technically fearless and with a musical temperament to match…
The Chopin Preludes had the same contrasting combination of brilliance and ravishment, sharply focused vignettes contrasted with the panache of a born showman. Trifonov's articulation in some of the faster numbers was breathtaking, but it was also superbly controlled, just as his ability to float the simplest melody showed his awareness of when the music could be left to speak for itself. The first two encores were sharply contrasted, too: a delicate Medtner Fairy Tale was followed by Guido Agosti's transcription of the Infernal Dance from Stravinsky's Firebird, ferociously, swaggeringly delivered.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, December 2012
“The problem for many gifted young musicians is that too much is expected too soon. Not so with 21-year old Daniil Trifonov. With his every appearance the young Russian pianist seems to defy the customary standards of assessment for musicians of his age.
As this recital of Scriabin, Liszt and Chopin demonstrated, age is simply not a factor with Trifonov. He inhabited the music on his own terms, listening to what it told him and filtering it through his own highly developed imaginative fantasy. He is unlike any other “young” musician in my experience. In contrast to most of his contemporaries, the technical display is merely the servant of the musical imagination, and such is his temperamental freedom – always in harness with intellectual control – that the listener can’t help being drawn into his world.
What this recital also showed was that increasingly rare phenomenon: the musician who only “finds” himself in the act of performance, who needs the adrenaline of public exposure to inspire and excite his musical antennae. It’s hard not to be swayed by Trifonov’s almost manic expressions, which somehow add to the agony and the ecstasy of the romantic expressionism he finds in his chosen composers. Not that Trifonov confines himself to such extremes. His Scriabin Sonata No 2 elicited quasi-impressionist delicacy and poetry, though always hinting at hidden depths beneath the shifting surface.
But it was in the Liszt B minor Sonata that he came into his own – a titanic performance, projected with a confidence and relish that masked the music’s ferocious technical challenges beneath a mastery of its tempestuous surges and swings of mood; and without a whiff of exaggeration.
After that, a second half devoted to Chopin’s 24 Preludes could have been an anti-climax. But far from delineating a string of miniatures, Trifonov painted them as constituent parts of a larger canvas, plunging into the driven, demonic numbers while savouring the unexaggerated simplicity of the pearl-like pieces. Next time he gives a solo recital, Trifonov’s promoters should book the Royal Festival Hall. He has the personality – and the sound, and the ideas – to fill it.”
Financial Times, December 2012
“Trifonov’s real business lay with Liszt’s ‘Sonata in B minor’ and Chopin’s ‘Preludes’. His achievement with Liszt’s switchback journey through heaven and hell was to make it appear seamless and, by terracing his sound, to suggest vast distances: the lyricism had a visionary quality, and the fury was conveyed with a light and steely touch.”
Michael Church, The Independent, December 2012
“Daniil Trifonov is already preceded by an exciting reputation wherever he appears. But not even a CV like this guarantees the musical maturity the 21-year-old Russian displayed in his Southbank debut recital, where he made Liszt’s massive Sonata in B minor the centrepiece in every sense.
Between the power required in this work’s demonic flourishes and the phantasmagorical musings called for elsewhere in its huge single movement span (both magnificently achieved), the most impressive aspect was the sense of epic space Trifonov brought to the music. But then he had already found the elusive pulse of Scriabin’s Second Sonata, beautifully weaving together its pensive fragments resembling half-remembered Chopin Nocturnes.
When it came to Chopin himself and a complete traversal of the Twenty-Four Preludes, Trifonov launched the opening “Agitato” without under agitation. Bound together by a natural sense of pianistic colour and meticulous pedalling, these were understated yet never under-characterised performances.”
John Allison, Sunday Telegraph, December 2012
Recording: Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Liszt transcriptions of Schubert and Schumann (Mariinsky label)
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 / Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Valery Gergiev
“Still only 21, Daniil Trifonov is quite a talent. Following success at the Chopin Piano Competition in 2010 and first prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition the year after, he has made the most hardened piano lovers sit up and take notice. His special blend of attributes is on display here, not least his technical ease, exquisite control and rich resource of colour…
For such an overworked piece it sounds remarkably fresh. He makes a beautiful sound, and the lyricism of the slow movement is touching and sincere.”
BBC Music Magazine, December 2012
“This is simply a remarkable disc. Tchaikovsky Competition winner Daniil Trifonov’s playing is a heady mix of super-virtuoso and the ability to generate the utmost tenderness. Allied to this is a fine interpretative ability. He demonstrates an enviable variety of touch and shading. The Concerto has plenty of mystery and sense of space as well as truly jaw-dropping moments. Trifonov understands that the piano can be truly kaleidoscopic.”
International Piano, November/December 2012
“Trifonov may be at the start of his career but he is already a mature artist. His youth brings an overwhelming energy which seems to blow cobwebs off everything he performs: he forces one to listen to these works anew, the sure sign of greatness.”
International Record Review, October 2012
Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.2
“Southbank audiences barely had time to draw breath after Daniil Trifonov’s barnstorming recital before the young pianist reappeared, this time to gobble up Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.2 with the Philharmonia Orchestra. This, too, was an extraordinary performance, made all the more moving by the fact that Prokofiev himself was, like Trifonov, barely 22 when he composed and first performed the original work. Two things epitomise Trifonov at the moment: his almost palpable hunger and thirst for music-making (he sat on the edge of his seat after the interval, mesmerised by the second half); and his prodigious command of pianistic touch, timbre and technique.
Prokofiev’s second concerto is itself a veritable encyclopaedia of pianism and imaginative invention. Some pianists don’t tackle it at all; those who do often simply get through the work — and that is enough. But Trifonov played as though he might have composed the concerto himself, in a white heat of inspiration, and with a gleeful ability to recreate physically the wildest stretches of Prokofiev’s imagination.
From his long, limpid stroking of the keys at the start, to the sheer variety of spikiness and wit that ensued; from the colossal cadenza that almost unseated him from the piano stool, to the contraction of the body for the concentrated moto perpetuo of the Scherzo — Trifonov set up a formidable challenge for the Philharmonia, even for Lorin Maazel himself.”
Hilary Finch, The Times, December 2012
“Prokofiev was 22 when he gave the first performance of his Second Piano Concerto, and a famous description of the occasion notes that when he appeared on the platform, he looked "like a high-school student". Daniil Trifonov, playing the work with the Philharmonia under Lorin Maazel, is 21, and as he walked on to the platform, lanky and gawky in his suit and tie, you couldn't help but feel that the same description applied. The premiere ended, notoriously, in a riot. This time round, however, the concerto rightly brought the house down.
It's a monster of a piece, flamboyantly self-conscious in its difficulty. Grinning from ear to ear and clearly enjoying every second, Trifonov threw himself into it with a recklessness that was engaging in itself. Technically, much of it was extraordinary. He whirled through both scherzo and finale with devil-may-care panache. The intermezzo teetered nicely between lyricism and the grotesque.”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, December 2012
Edinburgh International Festival / Scriabin, Medtner, Stravinsky, Debussy & Chopin
“Following his wins last year in two of the world’s highest-profile keyboard contests – the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions – expectations were high for 21-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov’s EIF recital. And he more than surpassed them, in a breathtaking concert combining boundless athleticism, searing power and an effortless musicality.
It almost goes without saying that his technique was immaculate – as demonstrated in the devilish demands of the Chopin op.25 Studies with which he ended his recital, from the stormy, surging octaves of no.10 to the scintillating chains of thirds in no.6. He paced the set expertly, characterising each piece vividly yet slowly building to the shattering and stormy final two movements, which he delivered with elemental force.
Yet he was even more impressive in the lucid beauty he brought to music that’s less technically challenging. His tonal control was breathtaking in the first book of Debussy’s Images: he had the astonishing ability to shape a phrase through his control of tone colour rather than by pulling the piece’s rhythms around too much, with the result that his interpretations combined classical precision and poise with intense emotion.
He brought brilliant clarity to the complex harmonies of the unfamiliar Scriabin Third Sonata, with which he opened his concert, and his traversal of three movements from Stravinsky’s Firebird were breathtaking in their sheer pianistic fireworks …”
David Kettle, The Scotsman, August 2012
Israel Philharmonic / Zubin Mehta Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
“The showers of notes sparkle like stars in the desert night. A wonderful performance.”
Norman Lebrecht, blog on Artsjournal.com, January 2012
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Valery Gergiev / Carnegie Hall
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1
“As soon as he lunged into the opening chords of the Tchaikovsky it was apparent that he had taken control. Although slight of stature he obtained a rich, full sound from the piano without banging or forcing, even in the octave passage of the first movement which he executed at blazing speed. This was a young man's performance, full of energy and drive, but never did one get the impression that Trifonov was simply aiming for effect. He almost became one with the piano, treating it as an extension of himself to project a highly personal vision of the piece. Pushing the tempo here, lingering lovingly there, he nevertheless made everything sound natural and refreshing.
Technique is simply not an issue for Trifonov, and he knows how to apply this freedom in the service of the music. In his two encores – Chopin's Grand Valse brilliante and Liszt's La campanella – the word "storyteller" kept coming to mind. Crouching in front of the piano, Trifonov knows how to get inside a piece and make it come to life. The Chopin was full of tasteful nuances and literally danced, while the Liszt showed off Trifonov's incredible passagework and control of structure.”
Classicalsource.com, October 2011
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Valery Gergiev / George Mason University’s Centre for the Arts / Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1
“Toward the end of the first movement, Trifonov played with such intensity that it seemed as if this moment was the greatest or most powerful thing that one could possibly experience... This is a major artist in the making.”
Washington Post, October 2011
“Trifonov, a young soloist who is destined for fame.”
Washington Examiner, October 2011
London Symphony Orchestra / Valery Gergiev / Barbican Centre, London
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1
“Here is a performer who already knows a huge amount not just about technique, but performance itself. Dispatching the Piano Concerto No.1, what was most noticeable about this fizzing display was showmanship without ostentatious theatrics, and a generous willingness, particularly in the balletic second movement, to let Gergiev and the by now fully fired-up London Symphony players to take the lead where the music required it. But he had the spotlight all to himself for Liszt’s Campanella, an encore delivered with delicate panache.”
Neil Fisher, The Times, September 2011
“Daniil Trifonov, 20, winner of the 2011 piano prize, possesses almost boundless potential... The charismatic young Russian tore into the Tchaikovsky first piano concerto with exhilarating confidence and formidable technique. Let's hope he goes on to the great things of which he is clearly capable.”
Martin Kettle, Guardian, September 2011
“The way Daniil Trifonov played, you’d say he was a mature master, rather than a mere 20-year-old. Power in spades, crystalline passage-work, and a pearlised singing tone: he’s already got it all, and his encore – Liszt’s La Campanella – had both flawless delicacy, and an engaging modesty.”
Michael Church, Independent, September 2011
“Trifonov’s Tchaikovsky first piano concerto more than matched expectations. He gave the opening salvo a spring in the step that immediately banished the “warhorse” tag, before uncovering a multitude of voices in the first movement cadenza... Trifonov is more than capable of the bewitching virtuosity this concerto invites, as his finale amply demonstrated...”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, September 2011
“Trifonov’s fingers are remarkably fleet, the notes unfailingly clear even at the motorway speeds... Trifonov was in many ways sensational, in love with the piano and everything he can do with it... Make no mistake, Daniil Trifonov is one hell of a talent.”
Classicalsource.com, September 2011