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Daniil Trifonov in Berlin: the juggler of rhythm

01.26.16
Daniil Trifonov
Klassiker - Berlin

Translated from German

Superlatives should be banned actually, since this artist is not even 25 years old yet. However, what can I say since due to always overlapping schedules, its not easy to see him live in concert, even in a nearly sold out Berlin Philharmonic? Yes, it's magic, pure magic, and there is something unique about him, an extremely rare combination of skill and intuition, manual ease as well as power and curiosity.

He seems to be born for the grand piano, but also for the concert hall experience. He marches in straight to the piano, in tight suite and narrow tie, and starts rather unemotional – but how! – relaxes visibly and enjoys the instrumental message. In the end he performs two subtle and finely played encores (Tchaikovsky’s delicate and with a nearly jazz-like free rhythm variation of the Silberfee from the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” and Alexander Skrjabin lyric floating C sharp minor Prelude for left hand) The lights are turned on again. That’s it, welcome back to reality.

The few CDs tell a little about him, Christopher Nupens Video (The Magics of Music & The Castelfranco Veneto Recital - on Naxos) as well as Youtube a little more. A private interview with Trifonov was enlightening, because it reveals him as an attentive, articulate young man and not as a piano nerd or a hyper gifted psycho. Although it’s a little scary considering the 60 (!) outstanding performances in eleven countries on two continents until July 20.

And yet it is the Trifonov live concert experience that counts. To see how he merges with the piano in an entirely unique way, still cramped paddling, nearly creeping into the instrument in Bach / Brahms Chaconne in D Minor for the Left Hand, which already at first attempt uncommonly captivates with its clanking, safely set initial chords and silent, some running, yet still incredibly sensitive passage work. In Schubert's later G major Sonata D 894 fascinates his sense of color, also again the continuous exchange between almost vanishing Pianopianissimo and thunderous, but round Fortefortissimo.

Brahms’ Paganini variations seem to be a whirlwind of sound cascades, absurdly heavy, almost like a mischievous child's play, where he almost willfully exploits the extremes in its first half and yet keeps the flow going. Immense contrasts are explored, he wants to try out all manual options and fantasies as on a sound adventure playground. Clearly, here the interpretational will is still malleable, not contoured as from an old masters, but he searches and tries out. But with what kind of a range of alternatives!

Is there a Trifonov-secret? He can do anything, at least on this evening with a wise and consistent, stylistically consequent program. But in addition to this magic attack, especially this dreamily, actively pulsating dealing with the rhythm fascinates. When this pianist plays, the music shines, lives and breathes. Can we say anything better?

Read the rest of the review here