"One of the brightest names of the next generation of pianists." In an industry whose artist biographies tend to scream their superlatives, here's a tellingly reticent statement; 21-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov sets himself in a lineage of masters by acknowledging that he is, for all his glitzy competition wins, for all his formidable technical prowess and musical intensity, yet an apprentice.
This recital showed a less exuberant Trifonov than the one who dazzled the Edinburgh International Festival audience in August. Here his back looked more stooped from the daily hours at the keyboard, and while he stopped short of singing along a la Gould or Goode, his heavy breathing and anguished expressions revealed the sometimes frightening degrees to which he feels implicated in the music he plays. Trifonov didn't so much captivate by drawing a broad range of colours out of the piano or by providing grand perspective on his repertoire; that depth will presumably develop in the years and decades to come. But he did captivate: with his ability to whip up a fury of notes and a dead-calm reverie in thrilling succession, with the total emotional conviction of his playing.
He opened with Scriabin's Second Sonata and devoted the entire second half of the evening to Chopin's Op 28 book of Preludes, devising the set as one continuous arc with hardly a hair's-breath between each prelude. I admired the spacious simplicity of slower numbers and wished for a less harsh attack in many of the faster ones. The heart of the programme was Liszt's great B Minor Sonata. Trifonov tackled it head on, living each moment rather than stepping back for an overview.
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