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Daniil Trifonov, The Carnegie Recital, review

11.21.13
Daniil Trifonov
The Telegraph

By Geoffrey Norris

Daniil Trifonov, young pianist of the moment, absorbs Scriabin's distinctive world of sound and brings poise and lucid texture to Chopin

Daniil Trifonov, winner of the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and very much the young pianist of the moment, gave this debut recital on the main stage of New York’s Carnegie Hall in February. The playing testifies to a maturity of technique and vision remarkable in a musician who was only 21 at the time. No less an authority than Martha Argerich has said that “he has everything and more. What he does with his hands is technically incredible”, adding that “his touch has tenderness and also the demonic element”.

That combination of qualities comes through with particular clarity and thrill here in Scriabin’s Second Sonata (Sonata-Fantasy) and Liszt’s Sonata in B minor. It is not merely the power and dexterity of Trifonov’s playing that make such an arresting impression, though the torrents of octaves in both the right hand and the left towards the end of the Liszt are astonishing in their brilliance, boldness and bravura. Rather, the key thing here is that Trifonov can harness his digital strength, stamina and skill to a highly developed sense of the music’s expressive substance.

In the opening Andante of the Scriabin, for example, you can hear (and see, if you follow the score) that Trifonov has absorbed the significance of nuances and graduations of dynamics and pacing to find the very nub of Scriabin’s distinctive world of sound. Argerich is right about the tenderness Trifonov can voice through his pianism, nowhere more than in his beautifully poised, interpretatively thoughtful and lucidly textured Chopin Préludes Op 28. An encore of a Medtner Fairy Tale caps a captivating recital brimful of character.