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Russian Pianist Daniil Trifonov Releases Fourth DG Album
Source: Louise Barder
18/09/2017

Daniil Trifonov, “without question the most astounding young pianist of our age” (The Times of London) and winner of the 2016 Gramophone Artist of the Year Award, devotes much of his 2017-18 season to a long-term exploration of Chopin. On October 6, he releases Chopin: Evocations on Deutsche Grammophon, juxtaposing Chopin’s compositions with works by 20th-century composers who were influenced by him, and gives over 20 recitals on the same theme across the U.S., Europe and Asia, including one in Carnegie Hall as part of the seven-concert Perspectives series he curates over the course of the season. The pianist also tours the U.S. with the Mariinsky Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev, playing his own Piano Concerto, as well as with his teacher and mentor, Sergei Babayan. Among his many other recital and orchestral appearances this season he plays the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic under Mariss Jansons; Prokofiev’s Second Concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the Cleveland Orchestra; Rachmaninoff’s Second and Third Concertos in live recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and Scriabin’s Piano Concerto with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot. Rounding out Trifonov’s season is a tour of Asia in the fall with a combination of recitals and orchestral performances; and European tours with violinist Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica, the London Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Chopin: Evocations on Deutsche Grammophon; Carnegie “Perspectives”

Chopin: Evocations is Trifonov’s fourth album as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist. In addition to featuring works by Chopin himself, like his Fantaisie-impromptu,Op. 66 (posth.), the disc also marks Trifonov’s first foray into a new repertoire: works of 20th-century composers who were heavily influenced by the Polish master, including Samuel Barber, Federico Mompou and others. The album sets the tone for Trifonov’s season, during which some 23 recitals around the world are devoted to the theme of Chopin and his influence.
 
Trifonov’s focus on Chopin is also a highlight of the seven-concert “Perspectives” serieshe curates this season at Carnegie Hall. Three of the programs are Chopin-themed: a solo recital and two all-Chopin concerts with violinist Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra. Kremer and Lithuanian cellist GiedrÄ— DirvanauskaitÄ— – with whom Trifonov appeared on Kremer’s DG album Preghiera, released this past February – are the soloists for the first concert, and French cellist Gautier Capuçon for the second. Further concerts in the Perspectives series present collaborations with baritone Matthias Goerne, with whom the pianist also gives recitals this season in Princeton, Bremen and Vienna, and with Trifonov’s teacher and mentor, Sergei Babayan; the New York premiere of Trifonov’s own piano concerto with longtime collaborator Valery Gergiev leading the Mariinsky Orchestra; and finally a second solo recital that includes a seminal piece from each decade of the 20th century, with works by Berg, Prokofiev, Bartók, Copland, Messiaen, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Adams, Corigliano, and Adès.
 
As Trifonov says of the series:
“I am very excited to have been chosen for the great privilege of presenting the Perspectives Series for Carnegie Hall’s 2017-18 season. It's a wonderful opportunity to explore a wide range of challenging and diverse programs, including 20th-century piano repertoire which is entirely new to me, music of Chopin with which I was brought up, and some of my own music. It will include collaborations with musicians who have left an important artistic imprint on me, and musical friends I have met along the way. It is especially exciting to be the youngest artist to have been featured in the Perspective Series and I cannot wait to share this music, not only in one of the most historic concert halls on the planet but in front of one of the most involved audiences.”
Trifonov is featured in similar recital and orchestral residencies this season at both the Vienna Konzerthaus, where he gives five performances, and in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, culminating with a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson-Thomas.

Tours of Trifonov Concerto and with Sergei Babayan

Trifonov made his Carnegie Hall debut in the company of Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra in 2011, playing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. The following year he recorded the work with them on the Mariinsky label, a rendition The Observer UK found “scorching and heart-rending, but never bombastic.” He opens the 2017-18 season playing Prokofiev with these long-standing collaborators at the Lucerne Festival, before joining them again for a U.S. tour of his own Piano Concerto. At its 2015 debut with Manfred Honeck leading the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, observing that the piece’s mood “shifted often between ghostly and lullaby-like, folkloric and cinematic, jazzy and witty, a la Shostakovich,” called Trifonov’s performance of it “spellbinding.” Before they play the piece at Carnegie Hall, Trifonov, Gergiev and the orchestra take it to the Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis and Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center. In the midst of those performances, Trifonov also performs the piece twice with the Detroit Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero. The pianist turns to another of his compositions in the spring, when he tours Europe with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica playing his Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra.
 
Along with his teacher and mentor Sergei Babayan, Trifonov embarks on his second U.S. tour of the season. Following German performances in Essen and at Berlin’s new Frank Gehry-designed Pierre Boulez Hall, opened earlier this year in the Barenboim-Said Academy, the tour stops in Los AngelesSan Francisco, and at Boston’s Celebrity Series, as well as again forming part of the Perspectives at Carnegie Hall. Le Figaro praises Babayan as a pianist of “unequaled touch, perfectly harmonious phrasing, and breathtaking virtuosity.” Repertoire includes two piano and four-hand works by Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Schubert, and Ravel, as well as the world premiere of a Carnegie-commissioned work for two pianos by Italian composer and IRCAM composition professor Mauro Lanza.

Further Performances

A handful of high-profile concerto engagements round out Trifonov’s phenomenally full season. After his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic playing Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto on their 2016 New Year’s Eve concert, he joins the orchestra this season under the baton of Mariss Jansons for a performance of Schumann’s sole piano concerto, which the composer, consciously avoiding the Romantic vogue for piano pyrotechnics, envisioned as a cross between a symphony, concerto and sonata. Trifonov also joins Jansons this season with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra to play Richard Strauss’s seldom-performed Burleske.
 
Trifonov returns to Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto in the spring for three performances with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the Cleveland Orchestra, after playing the piece at the Lucerne Festival and on tour in Japan with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. The pianist joins Tilson Thomas again at the end of the season for a rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony. His critical record with the conductor is stellar; when he played the Chopin concerto in San Francisco in 2015, San Francisco Classical Voice raved that “Trifonov’s fingers float across the keyboard as if he doesn’t even touch the keys; he just breathes and whispers into his piano and the instrument responds with pure tone, the notes emanating in sparkling garlands from his hands.” The same publication, a year earlier when he performed Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, noted that “Trifonov put the Davies Symphony Hall audience on notice right away. Something risky was about to happen. And so it did, in a warhorse-smashing, wildly entertaining performance.”
 
After recording the Grammy-nominated DG album Rachmaninov Variations with the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin in 2015, Trifonov joined them that same year for his subscription debut, playing what he considers the most challenging of Rachmaninoff’s concertos, the Fourth. This season he reunites with orchestra and conductor in Philadelphia for live recordings of Rachmaninoff’s Second and Third Concertos, which he plays twice each over the course of four nights.
 
Finally, Trifonov explores a youthful concerto by another of his countrymen this season, joining Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony for Scriabin’s Piano Concerto. Even this performance fits in with Trifonov’s Chopin focus this season; while the Russian Symbolist is best known for his mysticism and the highly personal and dissonant idiom of his later compositions, his early works show significant influence from his Polish predecessor. He composed his Piano Concerto when he was just 24, about the same age Trifonov was when he wrote his own.
 
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