Daniil Trifonov Queen's Hall

08.25.12
Daniil Trifonov
Herald Scotland

By Kate Molleson

Daniil Trifonov, pictured, is a sensation.

Floppy-haired, incredibly young-looking, he gave three brisk bows and a quiet smile before launching into one of the most challenging recital programmes any pianist could tackle. He set the first half in home Russian territory: Scriabin's Third Sonata, Three Fairy Tales by Nikolai Medtner and Guido Agosti's fiendish transcriptions from Stravinsky's Firebird. After the interval he turned to Book 1 of Debussy's Images and Chopin's Opus 25 set of Etudes. In its entirety. All from memory. Did I mention that Trifonov was born in 1991?

I doubt there's much written for the piano that Trifonov couldn't breeze through. His technique is mind-boggling and seemingly indefatigable: this programme would be enough to sink the hardiest of technicians, but Trifonov was quick to play not one but four encores, starting with the first of Chopin's Opus 10 set of Etudes. You got the feeling he'd have happily stayed to trot out the whole lot. And that's the real joy of hearing him: his brimming, infectious ebullience. This is no tortured prodigy. He lets himself have fun when he plays – I loved the ridiculous abandon he gave to Stravinsky's Danse infernale.

Maybe he's yet to find total warmth in his fortes, maybe his softer melodies could sing more clearly. But his colours are supple and varied, and his expression always deeply felt. Sometimes he looked to be in a kind of reverie; sometimes he stared down at the keys with ferocious intensity. A mobile phone rang – twice – between two Chopin Etudes but it didn't dent his composure a bit. Trifonov is an extraordinary talent.

He returns to Scotland this autumn, playing Liszt and Chopin in Glasgow on November 24.